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Re: The Show So Far

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org> writes:

> * Software is a social artifact with significant social consequences,
>   and therefore ought to be responsive to social pressures (i.e., not
>   just individuals).
> My favorite is the first, which is why I think freedoms should attach
> to use.  I'm willing to take this disagreement as fundamental, though
> (which for the current purposes means we'll argue it out if we're ever
> sitting together over a beer, but probably not 'till then).

So this is a different sort of argument, and calls for a different
response.  It's not about what makes a license a free software
license, but more fundamentally, about how software ought to work.

Let's notice first off that nobody ought to tell falsehoods.  But that
doesn't mean that it's good to have legal mechanisms that prohibit all
falsehoods.  Doing that would punt free speech right out the window.

So there are many important rules of society which, nontheless, it
would be a very bad idea to ensconce in law.

Still, maybe there should be a requirement that all software be
published.  That *is* vaguely part of what free software is about, and
there is some merit to the idea.

Here, where we are talking public policy, and not "what makes a license
a free software license", we should consider if there are any
important social benefits to be achieved by having some software *not*
be published.

Since we are presuming free speech, and a broadly free-software
consensus, we aren't going to tolerate laws that *prohibit*
publication.  So the only question is: should we have a law that
*requires* publication?

But this, it seems to me, would be bad public policy.  Fred the Lawyer
demonstrates, I think, that there are very good public policy rules
why we should not have a law that requires publication.  Whether a
free software license must respect privacy rights, it seems to me that
the state should--and so a forced publication requirement would be bad
public policy.


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