On Mon, Apr 14, 2003 at 06:21:11PM +0200, Georg C. F. Greve wrote: > || On Mon, 14 Apr 2003 10:18:10 -0500 > || Steve Langasek <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > sl> The perceived goal of the GPL is to establish a creative commons > sl> for the mutual benefit of all in the community. > I would agree to the sentiment, but I must say that I have some issues > using the commons example and terminology as commons are traditionally > established by sharing limited resources. Skilled programmers are limited resources, and as such their output is also limited. But in any event, it's not whether it's limited or not that's the important factor in a commons -- it's that it's freely usable by all. There's no conceptual difficulty with a commons that is arbitrarily large. > But unlike prose, most software derives its justification to exist > From its function, not its aesthetics. A lot of prose does the same -- it's written to persuade or to explain or to record, rather than to entertain or amaze. Conversely, substantial amounts of software derive its justification from aesthetics and it's Debian's opinion that computer games should be free to go into main too. > If I have a single word processor that I like, I usually have all the > word processors that I need, only very few people will use more than > one. > If I have one piece of prose that I like, I usually do not have all > the prose I need/want. The same goes for documentation or music. In > fact hearing some piece of music usually motivates me to get more. If you have a single rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet, you usually have all the copies of it you need/want. Sometimes you don't -- sometimes you're an English professor and need to get some modernised versions, or versions with commentary, or maybe a modern retelling. Sometimes a single word-processor isn't enough either, and you need to have access to a few to see how different features are accessed, or if different documents are rendered differently, or to see which is more accessible to your staff, or as some source material so you can get ideas on how to implement some new program you want to write. > So the patterns of distribution of software are mutually exclusive, [...] Then you'll presumably have no problem with us treating the distribution of GFDL documentation and free software as being mutually exclusive. > From knowing the people who worked on it, I know that creating such a > "commons" -- I will use your word despite its shortcomings I explained > above -- is exactly what they had and still have in mind. It's not what they've achieved. For a commons to exist, anything built on that commons must be readily accessible to everyone to use or enhance as they see fit. But the ability to arbitrarily add invariant sections that no one else can remove stymies any chance of that happening, in both a technical sense (you can't excerpt from the covered work), and a political sense (you can be forced to distribute irrelevent, outdated or highly disagreeable manifestos). These problems have already been encountered by the wikipedia and FOLDOC folks, see [0,1]. Cheers, aj  http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2002-June/002238.html  http://www.wikipedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-October/000624.html -- Anthony Towns <email@example.com> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/> I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred. ``Dear Anthony Towns: [...] Congratulations -- you are now certified as a Red Hat Certified Engineer!''
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