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Re: Social Contract GR's Affect on sarge

On Thu, 2004-04-29 at 08:14, Michael Poole wrote:
> Glenn Maynard writes:
> > On Thu, Apr 29, 2004 at 10:45:13AM +0200, Andreas Metzler wrote:
> >> I agree that it is impossible to partition the stuff in software and
> >> data. - There _is_ a grey zone. Accepting this and trying to differ
> >> betweeen "data" and "at least partially »software«" might be more
> >> useful.
> >
> > All data is software.  It is difficult to partition programs from data,
> > but software is a superset of both.
> Please stop this crusade to redefine "software."  Its definition:
> soft·ware, n. : The programs, routines, and symbolic languages that
>   control the functioning of the hardware and direct its operation.
> (From dictionary.com; WordNet 1.6 includes "associated documentation",
> but FOLDOC and others do not, and outside of Debian I have not seen
> "software" used to include documentation or non-program bits.)

>From one such dictionary.  Perhaps even from many such dictionaries. 
But I learned the other definition many years ago, and I have several
textbooks with the other definition.

If I ask my wife about it, she will declare that the images, sounds, and
text accompanying some bit of executable code together comprises a
"program".  *THAT* is what the "rest of the world" sees and knows. 
According to the "average" user, whatever that might mean, the image of
Clippy is a part of the "program" known as Microsoft Word.  It's rather
more common than you're implying.

> The entire point of the recent GR was that some Debian developers and
> users use "software" as the rest of the world uses the word, and
> exclude things like fonts, images, or statistical data.

I'm with Branden on this one: *every* single person arguing for a more
restricted definition of software is a "W4ReZ d00d".  

I really don't understand why the right to modify the auxiliary
materials is not just as important, if not more important, than the
right to modify the underlying code.  Why?  Because *MANY MORE USERS CAN
MODIFY IT!*  That's right, there are *many* more people who can modify
an image or change a color or record a new sound or write some words
than there are people who can write functioning code; there are, in
turn, more people who can write some functioning code than there are
people who can write correct firmware for some obscure device.  The
arguments I'm hearing amount to the idea that Freedom isn't necessary
for those "poor" users out in the first group.   
http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/free-sw.html doesn't just apply to
whiz-bang firmware coders who write in assembly language, you know.

*ANY* argument you can make that we need less freedom for documentation,
fonts, sounds, images, videos, whatever, applies equally well to code --
if not better, because there are fewer people capable of utilizing that
freedom for the code.

Now why is it again that there is a *need* to distinguish between code
and data?  The *same* freedoms are important for both, for the same
reason -- the end user needs to be able to modify the system as a whole
for his/her own needs.

Stephen Ryan
Digital Rights Management is bad for all of us:

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