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Re: The Show So Far

Anthony Towns <aj@azure.humbug.org.au> writes:

> I don't think so; the fundamental premise of free software is:
>  * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
>  * The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs
>  * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
>  * The freedom to improve the program

It's like you stopped reading and ignored the part where I said "The
'four freedoms' of the FSF spell out this basic premise more
carefully; I don't mean to be setting up some different standard than
that one."

> Historically, the only way you could access a program at all was to
> possess a copy of it, so it made sense to worry about how you could
> possess a copy, but not have those freedoms. These days, people use
> software they don't possess every day, in pretty significant ways.

Actually, they have *always* used software they don't possess.  I
*still* am a user of software that CMU doesn't even run any more--the
software that maintained its registration records in the mid 1980s.

> You are though; you're starting from the means, not the ends, and thus
> artificially restricting the whole point. 

But if the end were to make sure that the software was available to
*everyone*, why have free software licenses not ever said that until
recently?  If "users" were the focus, why were they not said?  There
have been non-possessor users for a very long time--indeed, the notion
that nearly all users are posssessors really only dates from about
1990, when Posix boxes became cheap enough that multi-user systems
weren't so important any more.

> > In both these cases, the imposition is in the category of "a genuine
> > pain".  But it's not an imposition on *freedom* (or rather, the
> > imposition on *freedom* is negligible).  
> I'm sorry, but that's not the case. _You_ might choose to disregard it,
> after analysing the situation and trading off the benefits against the
> drawbacks, but that does _not_ make the imposition negligible.

Once again--there are two kinds of imposition that the GPL source
requirement makes.

First, is the requirement of disclosure of the source.  Here, it's not
negligible, but it isn't an imposition on freedom either.

Second, is the physical need to burn an extra CD-ROM or devote extra
space on the server so people can download the source.  That one *is*
an imposition, but it is negligible.

> You're well within your rights to think that the freedoms the GPL
> limits aren't valuable or important. That's fine and great. But they
> are important to a bunch of people, and it's a tradeoff that it's often
> necessary to carefully consider before making.

There are two freedoms that the GPL limits (thinking of the source

1) The freedom to take away other poeple's freedom, and
2) The freedom to have a smaller, more economical distribution.

Number (1) is a real imposition, but not a real freedom.
Number (2) is a real freedom, but denying it is not a real imposition.

> Pretending that there's no tradeoff being made here and that therefore
> there's not only no precedent for tradeoffs but that they're a fundamentally
> bad thing is quite disingenuos.

There is a tradeoff; it's like I say this over and over and you don't
hear.  For a condition which does impinge freedom, there is a very
important trade-off to be considered: whether it is a real pain to
conform to it or not.

> > That you may not think my arguments prove the point is obvious, since
> > we have a disagreement.  But there's a difference between "haven't
> > made any arguments" and "we have a disagreement."  
> What I mean by "haven't made any arguments" is that the things you've
> said simply don't make any sense unless you already hold your worldview.
> Distinguishing between "possessors" and "users" and claiming that the
> restrictions we currently allow don't affect "freedom" but that these
> "just do" isn't forming an argument, it's begging the question. It
> doesn't add any information, it just restates the original question.

Isn't this true of your arguments too then?

You keep misstating my own position so many times, that I suspect I
still have not made it clear enough.

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