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Re: Desert island test

On Wed, Mar 05, 2008 at 01:54:38PM -0800, Ken Arromdee wrote:
> On Mon, 3 Mar 2008, MJ Ray wrote:
> > > Allow me to propose my own convenient test, which 
> > > I refer to as the "Bloody Murderer Test":
> > In that case and if the lunatic is truthful, no software under the GPL is free
> > for 'you'.  However, that's the fault of the lunatic and not the software or
> > its licence.  IMO the correct bugfix is to cancel out the lunatic.
> I could equally use that reasoning for the mandatory redistribution case.
> No software under that license is free for you, but that's the fault of the
> situation and not the license.  The bugfix is to get off the island.
> It's pretty similar to the bloody lunatic test; the license says you
> can't distribute unless you follow some condition (distribute source/send
> changes off the island), but an external force having nothing to do with the
> author of the software forces you not to follow the condition.  Why is it
> the fault of the external force in one case and the fault of the license in
> the other?

There's one assumption you're making: that the world is a single small
well-connected place where anyone can see everyone else.  The three tests
involved make sense if you drop that assumption:
* a desert island is obviously ill-connected.  So is a remote town where you
  do have a bunch of CDs that you or someone else brought.  Travelling to
  the nearest place with decent connectivity can take a long time and be
  prohibitively expensive to do on a whim.
* the dissident obviously does everything possible to avoid connections. 
  He does have good reasons to avoid being seen.  Privacy is a human right.
* the bloody murderer cannot watch you all the time.  It is enough to go to
  aside and then transfer the software.  Unless the "world" is too small,
  there will be a place that's local to you and your friend but remote for
  the murderer.  Again, this is a reason why privacy is important.

Same for the "carved stone tablets watched by a plane argument": there are
no planes going all around to watch people (well, unless the Chinese
govt/Gestapo/DHS get their way...).  Not everyone can see you, not every
place is well-connected.  That's physically impossible.  For an extreme
case, think about a spaceship far away.  People aboard can and will receive
news from the good ol' Earth, get the latest movies/jokes/software/etc, yet
any possible response won't make it back before all recipients are dead.
There's no "bugfix" like "get off the spaceship".

And if these scenarios are conceived and you disregard computers in Africa
or Mexican jungle, here's something modern:

Suppose you go to a customer's place.  Suspecting not everything is to their
liking (and that's kind of granted...), you take a laptop with a copy of
your dev environment.  When you're there, indeed, you need to sit down and
hack in whatever they wanted.  When you're done, you distribute copies of
the software to several parts of the customer at that location, then go to
an affiliate of theirs half an hour away.  Finally, you drive home for two
hours, arriving too dead tired to even make a commit of your (already
distributed!) changes that day.

Or are you going to tell me that I need to go hunt for an Internet
connection before I can copy them the damn thing?

Cheers, regards, and... uhm...
1KB		// Microsoft corollary to Hanlon's razor:
		//	Never attribute to stupidity what can be
		//	adequately explained by malice.

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