Re: [ox-en] non-commercial software lic
- From: Raj Mathur <raju linux-delhi.org>
- Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 08:39:16 +0530
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"august" == august <august alien.mur.at> writes:
august> A fourth is that the freedom to do whatever you want
>> with a software is important enough in the absolute that
>> whether or not you are making a profit really doesn't matter.
august> I really wince when I hear things like "....freedom to do
august> whatever you want ...." in relation to "free" software. I
august> really don't mean to knitpick with you Mako, but it sounds
august> so incredibly naive to me. Does that mean that someone is
august> "free" to use freesoftware to make a destructive virus?
august> or free to use it to spy illegally on other people's
august> communications? or free to use it to guide scud missiles
august> at innocent people? this is the way Vaneever Bush was
august> thinking when he lead the project that built the nuclear
august> bomb. and, to date, he is praised by artists and
august> scientists alike.
Sure, why not? I see no reason for software to carry restrictions on
its use, for a number of reasons:
1. Software is a tool, and tools by themselves are not good or bad,
right or wrong, desirable or undesirable. Many of us keep arguing
that the usage and/or dissemination of tools should be restricted to
what we consider ``desirable'' ends and persons. However if you
extrapolate a bit, that is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to
people-unfriendly laws like the infamous DMCA -- restrict usage of a
tool that can potentially be used to commit a ``crime'' in order to
stop that ``crime''.
It would be much more productive in the long run if you started
educating people about the ``crimes'' themselves and how and why they
should not be committed rather than revoking potential ``criminals''
access to the tools used to commit the ``crime''. Another option
(which you may or may not believe in) is punishing the ``criminals''
who commit the crime.
[``Crime'' here refers to whatever the favourite flavour of
undesirable activity of the day is -- Racism, Terrorism, Theft, War,
Capitalism, Socialism, Paedophilia, choose your own.]
2. Who decides who can use a particular piece of software? The
author? If that is the case, I may write a software that,
e.g. carries a restriction that it cannot be used by Microsoft.
Sounds fine and dandy, doesn't it? But if we continue along that
road, we can more or less reasonably extend that restriction to
include Sun, IBM, Boeing, USA, United Kingdom, The EU, any
predominantly white nation, China (because of Tibet), all of the Far
East, Asia-Pacific, the Congress Party of India, the people of the
state of Gujarat, the judges who found the killers in Gujarat not
guilty, my neighbour who plays rotten Punjabi music all day long, my
other neighbour whose car makes a horrible sound when reversing,
. ad nauseum in the list of entities not permitted to use the
software. Do we really want authors to tag their software with their
pet hates and peeves?
3. There will never be consensus on a list of ``undesirable''
activities for which, or entities by which a software should not be
used. You may see the list very clearly in your mind, as do I, but
there is probably almost nothing in common between our lists. Our
world-views are different, our backgrounds are different, our
priorities for ourselves and the rest of the world are different. I
doubt if this list (which I presume is made up of more or less
like-minded people) can arrive at a comprehensive and well-defined
list of activities/entities for/by which free software should not be
used in any reasonable period of time. If we can't do it, the act of
trying for a global consensus on this issue is futile.
4. Restricting software usage is a double-edged tool. If you and I
can restrict, e.g. paedophiles from using our software, paedophiles
can also restrict you and me from using software they write. In other
words, if implemented properly your suggestion will lead to complete
fragmentation of the free software mass. People will be producing
software that can only be used by smaller and smaller groups of users
as time goes on, and the primary objective of free software --
increasing the amount of wealth in the world by eliminating software
hoarding -- will be completely subverted and lost. I for one am not
pleased at this picture.
- -- Raju
Raj Mathur raju kandalaya.org http://kandalaya.org/
GPG: 78D4 FC67 367F 40E2 0DD5 0FEF C968 D0EF CC68 D17F
It is the mind that moves
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