Ownership in Software

Ricardo Andere de Mello gandhi at quilombodigital.org
Wed Apr 21 23:22:37 UTC 2004

On Wednesday 21 April 2004 20:56, you wrote:

> "The owner is the society"  I consider this argument and I totally
> disagree. I would put it this way: society has to take advantage of the
> ownership.  And I am not talking about money.

ok, people normally disagree with me. ;-)

> Consider this:  If I programmed something which is extremely useful I would
> like to claim the ownership in that program. But I am that smart, that I do
> not sell it. Instead, I give it away for free and undr the GPL. One month
> later the MIT calls and offers me a professorship - I am at the aim of all
> my dreams. If I would not be able to claim ownership in that program, such
> a career would be impossible.

hum... I understand your point, but I think that:
1. in an open-source environment, with dozens of developers working at the 
same code, it is complicated to talk about ownership.
2. programming has changed. You will not have more "lone ranger" programmers, 
you will have collaborative efforts.
3. I know a lot of people that sells their image inside free-software 
communities. If you are a good programmer, work hard, and is a good person, 
EVERYBODY just knows, because it's a "community". I have at least one job 
proposal a week, and I don't claim any ownership over any code. People at the 
community just know, from my history, that I'm a good person, and based on my 
Friends (another important thing) they know who I am. There are some sites 
growing now specialized in friends networks. (try www.orkut.com)

> You guys are working on free software because this vehicle is useful. To
> protect it from restriction you publish it under a license which basically
> prohibits restrictions (GPL). This needs ownership.

In a REAL free world GPL would not be necessary, so I don't think GPL 
represents necessarily free-software.

> The argument that no-ownership is the golden way is mistaken, as I would
> say. Because it disallows people to use their freedom by restricting the
> usage of the result of their labor.

> BUT: ;-)))
> Isn't Linus Torvalds the owner? He decided to publish the software under
> the GPL. From than on the software was available for everybody, and
> everybody has to agree to the terms of the license. This freedom is ensured
> because of the original ownership. I agree that it sounds very strange to
> use the word "ownership" here since Linux is labeld to be free.

> Here again a refer to freedom. Freedom is what Stallman wants. But then he
> has also respect autonomy and the power to change my will and to practice
> my freedom in the way I want to practice it.
> Of course, this presuposes that an social institution like ownership
> exists. But that is beyond any question and had been justified by many
> philosophers and legal writers.

> What matters to me that I can construcht a concept of freedom. You have to
> admit that positive and negative freedoms mean totally differemt thinks and
> that they capture different entities of life. Herein is the usefulness of
> Ethics - I do not have to listen to the lawyers !!! ;-))))))

I agree on this.

> The problem is that we have to define the rules. And that is why I am
> hostile to Stallman's idea that software should have owners. It is a
> propostion of a new rule, to use your idea, and I am willing to discuss it
> ;-))

If you pay att

> I do not know if ownership in software has something to do with the "cost
> of lives". The principle of the "properitarian software" should be able to
> be mirrored in GPL'ed software. GPL'ed software has legal owners. Does it
> cause the death of people?

eventually yes, for negligence. one company can spend more time doing a 
totally new software to solve a specific problem just because it don't wanted 
to use a small GPL lib and be obligated to turn it's software GPL.

GPL is not a good thing, it's just a medicine, the disease is still there. 
People should know what to do. 

> Ok! But information is different from software. Here we fight a battle on
> another field. I know that software is considered as text (like art) or as
> an instruction for a machine. I mean you can run Linux. You can read a book
> by XY but you cannot "run" the book. So the information in a software is
> more than just a "message". It is a construction.  Stallman has to accept
> this and he also has to give people the freedom to restrict the access to
> this text. Otherwise he would change the world without making it better. Am
> I wrong?

Software is product of the mind, is Information! You take some parts of 
information, process them in your brain, and then combine in a new form and 
exposes it as software. At the end, like lavoisier, nothing is invented, 
everything is transformed. Duchamp with his shit cans showed that everything 
can be art.
I talked to Stallman sometimes I can guarantee you Stallman knows GPL is a 
free software "defense mechanism", not the main idea.

[]s, gandhi

Ricardo Andere de Mello
Quilombo Digital - Presidente
gandhi at quilombodigital.org / 55 11 3271-7928

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