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Re: query from Georg Greve of GNU about Debian's opinion of the FDL

On Mon, Apr 14, 2003 at 06:21:11PM +0200, Georg C. F. Greve wrote:
> But unlike prose, most software derives its justification to exist
> From its function, not its aesthetics.
> The very same people who have been lumping together totally different
> areas of law such as copyright, patents and trademarks under the
> "intellectual property rights" terminology are still careful enough to
> differentiate between software and what they call "content."

BTW, lumping things that are different isn't the only thing other people
do to come to unhelpful conclusions, separating things that are similar
in exactly the way that you have is too.

In particular, the above argument is the exact one people to use to say
that software is not a form of speech, and should not be given the strong
protections many expect to be given to speech. It's refuted by example
by Dravid Touretzky at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/, fwiw.

It's obvious and trivial to claim that there are differences between your
average speech, or your average book, or your average picture and your
average program. It's not correct to go on from there to say that some
things deserve more protection than others. If you want to distribute the
GNU Manifesto in a non-free manner, that's fine and your choice. If you
want to distribute the glibc and gcc documentation in a non-free manner,
that's fine and your choice too. Trying to establish loopholes in what
the community accepts as "free" in order to avoid getting caught in a
double standard isn't fine, however, even if you don't realise that's
what you're doing, and you're doing it with the best intentions for the
long term interests of free software.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <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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