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Re: LGPL module linked with a GPL lib

On 8/3/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think his point is that because of the nature of ideas -- that they don't
> exist in and of themselves, but are abstracts used to describe
> communication between people -- that it's impossible to codify
> property rights protecting them.  There will always be cracks
> in the structure.

As I understand it, no one in recent centuries has tried to codify
property rights protecting "ideas" as such; neither copyright nor
patent nor trademark law presents any barrier to the free
dissemination and use of ideas, and trade secret law creates no
property right and governs nothing but the breach of duties
voluntarily accepted with regard to unpublished information. 
Imperfect but workable property rights have been created for original
expression (at a rather literal level), industrial applications of an
invention, and symbols of authenticity; how are these any less
amenable to codification than the ownership of a parking lot, a
skyscraper, or anything else for which a valuation must be based on
the income that may be derived from controlling its use rather than
the incremental cost of using it?

> On the one hand, you have "property".  Property exists as matter,
> and we have reason to believe (the laws of thermodynamics) that
> mass is conserved.

A common misapprehension.  "Chattels" are matter.  "Property" is a
legal right, i. e., a social convention.  I'm not trying to go
toe-to-toe with you in the pedantry stakes; but your analogy is faulty
right from the outset.

The whole _point_ of making copyright, patent, and trademark forms of
property is that they become subject to the great body of law that
governs legal property rights.  They can be sold or transferred
without running afoul of "continuing performance".  They can be used
as security for a loan.  A non-exclusive right to use them can be
offered for a fee or bartered in exchange for a similar right.  The
owner's exclusive rights may be limited for the sake of the public
good, by analogy with public right-of-way and environmental protection

> Now, granted, these laws are sometimes enforced (when there's
> enough money involved).   But, for example, RMS has made it
> a practice to deliberately avoid dealing with anything which has
> even a hint of this enforcement associated with it (for example,
> consider the emacs / xemacs fork).

I have no idea what you are trying to prove by this example, but you
certainly pique my curiosity.  What law could RMS have sought to
enforce on anyone involved in Lucid or XEmacs?

> Some people consider him rather poorly for making these kinds
> of choices, but his loss of credibility in that sense doesn't seem
> to have much to do with the stuff you're talking about.

Actually, the whole Lucid thing excites my sympathy for RMS rather
more than the converse.  Whatever the facts of the matter may have
been, some of the messages in Jamie Zawinski's archive (notably
Richard Gabriel's initial public sally) strike me as unnecessarily
unkind.  In his position I would probably have handled it less
gracefully, leaving no one better off.  How can I not admire a man
whose response to a hostile takeover of his pride and joy begins:

The long delay in releasing Emacs 19 is the FSF's fault. (In some
sense, therefore, mine.) While it's regrettable that there are
multiple versions, I can't blame people for filling the gap that the
FSF left. One of the goals of the copyleft is to allow people to do
this--so that one central maintainer's lapse does not hold back the
rest of the community.

> Well,  except that you're indicating that people seriously think of
> him as a saint.  But... there's also plenty of people who think
> of him as something other than a saint.
> Personally, I just don't think that issues bearing on sainthood are
> all that interesting.

They're a sidetrack to be sure; but kind of an interesting sidetrack. 
His personal history and philosophy strike me as more reminiscent of
Dominic de Guzman or Benedict of Nursia than any modern figure.  In
any case, I certainly intended no slur on RMS by that, nor on any
participant in this discussion.

- Michael

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