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Re: Proposed: Debian's Five Freedoms for Free Works

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> I personally have advocated a fifth freedom:
> 5) The freedom to retain privacy in one's person, effects, and data,
>    including, but not limited to, all Works in one's possession and
>    one's own changes to Works written by others.

I think (though I'm not sure) that I agree with what you're trying to
do, but I don't like using privacy as its basis[1].  Reasonable people
can disagree, of course, but I think it's important to understand that
privacy and the free flow of information are competing values, and the
optimum is some point between either extreme that maximizes other
social values.

To give a concrete example, accurate attribution of changes (e.g., a
changelog) is a good thing because is strengthens the social
structures that keep Free Software working, yet it's clearly a limit
on privacy, albeit relatively minor.

I'd say that there are two ideas implicit in the desert island test,
and neither of them are really about privacy:

* The only two parties involved in the exchange of Free Software are
  the distributor and the distributee.  Requirements that arbitrary
  third parties play a role can not be met if that third party isn't
  on the desert island.  I think of this as symmetry.

* That the distributee isn't required to give any sort of
  consideration to the distributor.  If the distributee finds the
  software on a note in a bottle (or perhaps on a computer in the ship
  that crashed on the island) he should have all the necessary rights
  to the software.  I think of this as not requiring consideration.

I think both of these are somewhat controversial, though.

[1] Much as I dislike the guy, I find I agree with Brin in that making
    privacy into a fundamental right is likely to be more damaging
    than helpful to society.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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