FW: Ethics of Circumventing OS

Gladwell, Ricardo ricardo.gladwell at demon.net
Mon Mar 19 11:01:28 UTC 2001

Dear All,

For those of you who are interested please find below the rather
unapologetic response from the author of the article in Webtechniques, and
my response to his response. I would like to thank those of you who
contacted me offering your support.


Ricardo Gladwell, Web Developer
Demon Internet, Westhumble House,
Dorking Business Park, Dorking. RH4 1HJ
Tel: +44 (01306) 732 356
Mobile: +44 (07779) 841 444

> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Michael Trachtman [mailto:michael at eloquence.com]
> > Sent: 19 March 2001 05:53
> > To: Gladwell, Ricardo
> > Cc: Al Williams
> > Subject: RE: Ethics of Circumventing OS
> > 
> > 
> > Ricardo,
> > 
> > Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading them.  Of course, I see
> > your point. I'm not sure that I agree that using Open 
> Source Software
> > is unethical in the way I describe. I'm not qualified to 
> judge ethics.
> > 
> > However, I think that there is a slight difference between legally
> > working around Open Source limitations and working around 
> > other copyright
> > limitations,
> > in that in one case somebody loses money and in the other 
> > not.  I'm sure
> > that
> > web techniques would not publish an article for 
> circumventing anything
> > in an illegal way.  I disagree that "the profits belong to the
> > open-source movement", as the "open source movement" does 
> not (in most
> > cases)
> > claim or ask for any profit.
> > 
> > The real truth is, of course, that I wrote the article for 
> > fun. The topic
> > of the month was "legal issues", and I wanted to write an 
> > article about
> > using CORBA to bridge Java and C instead of JNI.  In order to match
> > the article with the monthly topic, I came up with this idea,
> > of using CORBA to circumvent Open Source restrictions.  I 
> don't really
> > know if the idea works from a legal perspective. Who knows !!
> > 
> > In any case, what I was trying to do was to have fun. And 
> the creation
> > of controversy is fun in any case.  So, thanks for adding to the
> > controversy.
> > Of course, if you want to cancel your subscription, that is 
> your priv.
> > However, since it is a fun and educational magazine, I don't 
> > suggest it.
> > And besides, the magzine is like Open Source software. It 
> is available
> > for free both in print and on the web. Without serious "open source
> > restrictions". And, if you want to write an article on how to 
> > work around
> > any "copyright restrictions" that might apply to Web Techniques
> > (such as making deep links to content and other such "controversial"
> > issues),
> > it's possible that Web Techniques would publish it. Who knows.
> > 
> > So, in the meantime, just enjoy the fun. It's not all that serious.
> > 
> > Most warmly..
> > .. Michael 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gladwell, Ricardo 
> Sent: 19 March 2001 10:57
> To: 'Michael Trachtman'
> Cc: 'alw at al-williams.com'; 'editors at webtechniques.com'
> Subject: RE: Ethics of Circumventing OS
> Dear Michael,
> Thank you for your informative reply to my email. I also 
> enjoyed reading your comments. However, while you claim to 
> see my 'point' the body of your email would seem to 
> demonstrate otherwise. 
> Your first point that you are in no position to 'judge 
> ethics' leaves me slightly concerned: surely, as mature 
> adults, we are all responsible for judging the ethics of our 
> own actions.
> You also claim, in defence of you article, that Webtechniques 
> is 'open-source'. While I agree that articles from this 
> publication are free (as in 'free beer') to view on the 
> Internet, I do not imagine that Webtechnique's publisher's 
> would be particularly happy if other people began to 
> completely reprint all their articles on their own web sites. 
> Or, worse still, publish them in their own, printed 
> magazines. In that sense they are not free (as in 'free 
> speech'). Perhaps this distinction escaped you attention when 
> you wrote your article.
> You also tell me in your reply that 'in one case somebody 
> loses money' (if a copyright workaround is found for 
> commercial software) 'and in the other not' (if the procedure 
> detailed in your article is followed). It would seem to me 
> that this argument is completely flawed and the reverse is 
> true. Copyright law and copyleft licensing are there to 
> prevent other people from profiting from your work and, in 
> both the cases you mention, profits from work done go to 
> people who did not earn them.
> Your final defence is that it was 'all for fun' and that you 
> wanted to 'create controversy'. I've heard that one before 
> and perhaps the editors might feel that a 'bit of fun and 
> controversy' should be reserved for the online forums, news 
> groups and chat rooms with the rest of the troll posts, 
> leaving Webtechniques for more useful, informative and 
> 'funnier' articles. It is unfortunate that this bit of fun 
> cost Webtechniques a subscription, and possibly more 
> considering the supportive responses I have received from 
> posting my letter.
> Besides, your intentions are irrelevant - I'm not interested 
> in why you wrote the article, only that you did write it. As 
> far as any open-source developer is concerned the profits 
> from circumventing copyleft belong to the open-source 
> community and not private individuals.
> It is worth noting that there have never been any legal cases 
> enforcing copyleft - in fact, I do not consider that copyleft 
> was ever designed to be upheld in a court of law. Rather, I 
> believe copyleft was created to make a point about the 
> hypocrisy of copyright - a point that you have unconsciously 
> demonstrated with your article. As I mentioned in my last 
> email, you would never dream of publishing an article 
> demonstrating a 'legal' method of circumventing, say, 
> Microsoft's copyright restrictions for fear of (extreme) 
> legal reprisals. You do so for open-source community only 
> because you know legal reprisals will not be forthcoming. And 
> what could be more hypocritical and unethical than that?
> Yours sincerely...
> -- 
> Ricardo Gladwell, Web Developer
> Demon Internet, Westhumble House,
> Dorking Business Park, Dorking. RH4 1HJ
> Tel: +44 (01306) 732 356
> Mobile: +44 (07779) 841 444 

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