Ownership in Software

João Miguel Neves joao at silvaneves.org
Wed Apr 21 22:52:13 UTC 2004

A Qua, 2004-04-21 às 23:00, Axel Schulz escreveu:
> Hej João Miguel!
> Thank you for your comment!
> > For a couple of centuries we've accepted that there's no ownership on
> > literary works. Could you tell me why do you think that's wrong? I can
> > see no strong argument for ownership of software.
> Software is more than "literary works".  It is also an instruction for a machine. It makes people communicate. Books do not do that. That might make me communicate with the world but therefore I do not need the book. In the sense that I talk about the book with other people. But I do not need the book to talk.
The only difference is the "instruction for a machine". If you don't
think a book is used for communication, I have to wonder if you read one
(I'm betting you did, but never noticed).

> You have to accept this argument.
I don't have to accept any argument, in particular if I think it's wrong

> My second argument is that everyone should have the freedom to ownership. That a society didn't recognize ownership in "literary works" doesn't mean that it is/was immoral.  There was simply no social institution which recognized this freedom (as a claim). Claims to property had been recognized in material goods. Black people where sometime in history considered as property (Slaves). Thanks God that changed.
You failed to make an argument here. There's no reason that make me
change my mind. You don't say anything other than "everyone should have
the freedom to ownership".

> Is history really a good idea for give reference? I now that Stallman argues also in this way, but you also have to consider the weaknisses of the argument.
In this case I don't use history as a reference, but more than 200 years
of intelligence discussion on these matters. It's scary how little has
changed in this discussion since the french revolution.

If there are weaknesses in any argument please point them out. So far, I
haven't seen them.

> By that time almost every request for art was done by the "upper class". It was also clear that the "artist" will in this way make his living. But nowadays we also produce art on "supply".
> Is that argument sound?
No. I fail to see an argument. You pointed out an effect of money
distribution that allows more people to buy art. Why does that help your
thesis? I don't see the connection.

> The argument for the freedom to ownership has a force. You can hardly deny this. It constituts a claim which has to be recognized.
No it's has no force or justification so far. Sorry you failed to even
point out what problem such ownership would solve. Please establish that
so we can have a useful discussion.

> > Your argument seems strange:
> > 
> > You say we need good software, and you claim that's possible by limiting
> > our ability to correct bugs and to maintain a program beyond its
> > creators wishes to fit our purposes. That's seems strange to me.
> Why? "Limiting your possibility to correct bugs"? You are free to do that where the smart author decided to GPL his program. As I said, I can hardly accept the state of affairs in which ownership in software is not allowed. When someone is writing a program and restricting the access to the source code, why should you care about the bugs?
Are you really saying that software with "ownership" should not be used?
So if it shouldn't be used why do you present ownership as a way to
develop more software?

> You are free to create software and you are free to share the source code but if you force someone to give away his work or doesn't allow him to do with it what he wants to do you violoate his rights and freedoms.
Which rights? And why are those rights more important than the others
you're preventing (including the right to have a functioning software)?

> I can see that this causes major difficulties in your professional life but this no moral argument against ownership in software.
Sorry, parse error.

> > 
> > You say it's a matter of justice, freedom and valid claims. I completely
> > disagree. I see no justice nor freedom in being restricted to do
> > something by others. I don't believe any restrictions on my freedom to
> > do things to be valid claims without a great explanation. I hope you
> > have one.
> You are right when it comes to your professional work. I can see between the lines a little frustration. But this is not enough to attack the freedom and the claim to ownership of the author.
> Justice comes in, when we talk about the anti-commons etc. There you have to find other solutions because ownership (patents) in medicine-research-products hinders downstream product development. But here you have no chaoice and the case in totally different to ownership (copyright!!) in software.
> Can you accept these arguments?
No, I know too many people trying to save lives that are being lost
thanks to patents in medicine. If you believe that those mechanisms are
worth human lives, then this discussion is not worth having.

There's no such thing as freedom to ownership and you haven't provided a
reason for its existence. I hope you do, or else, this is not a
discussion worth having.

As for frustration in my professional life, don't worry. I only work
with free software.
						João Miguel Neves

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