Ownership in Software

Rui Miguel Seabra rms at 1407.org
Wed Apr 21 23:41:30 UTC 2004

On Thu, 2004-04-22 at 00:17 +0100, Niall Douglas wrote:
> Food production has outpaced population growth in every part of the 
> world except some regions in Africa. There is NO REASON why there 
> should be anyone starving at all in the world. Yes as a percentage of 
> the world population, it continues to grow worse with time. Why?

I don't know. Food degradation during the time to transport it from one
place to another could explain at least some part of it, but I find it
interesting that the EU pays us (Portugal and other countries) to
produce _less_ food. Pretty weird, considering all the hunger huh? Why
not buy that food to farmers and send it someplace else?

> > Does it make any sense to claim ownership of software, restricting the
> > possibility to end intellectual hunger?
> Yes, because he who controls the information controls the world. 
> Information, especially timely information, is more valuable now than 
> at any other point in human history to date. It's obvious that the 
> powers-that-be will want to control it and use it to extort things 
> out of the general population whose sole purpose after all is to 
> consume as much as possible and not bother anyone at the top.

I know, but I'm not talking about 'making sense for the profit of evil
people'. Instead, I'm talkin about 'making sense for society'.

> No I think this is too much "you're with us or you're against us". It 
> seems clear to me that both paradigms can coexist - both software 
> ownership and non-ownership.

I don't, because there is no ownership. There is a
*temporary*monopoly*right* called Copyright :)

> What's wrong with software ownership at present is that the owner is 
> not fully liable for faults in their products (unlike almost any 
> other industry). If Microsoft were fully liable for the general 
> crappiness of most of their software, I guarantee it'd either be 
> withdrawn from sale or made much better very quickly. The fact that 
> this isn't the case has led to our present malaise.

Of course. But it makes sense. Software is to be covered by copyright
law, according to international treaties signed by many countries:

Are authors liable for faults in their products? Books carry no
warranties either... you could buy a book written by a competent author
that effectively taught you something, and you could buy a book that
might as well be written by an infinite number of monkeys :)

> If the EU really wanted to fine MS properly, they'd make all software 
> manufacturers fully liable for all damages caused by misoperation of 
> their software. Every single virus infection in a copy Windows would 
> require MS to pay compensation etc.

I still think that forcing royalty free full access to all documentation
on their file formats and communication protocols, failing to do that
penalty of temporary (10 years, for instance) exclusion from the
common-market would be much more effective than a miserous one time 1%
of their cash reserves and mandatory RAND licensing.

> > The GNU GPL is one (of many) Free Software licenses and, I think, the
> > one most used.
> I would bet that in terms of millions of lines of code, it wouldn't 
> be.

I don't know. A project may have millions of lines of code and not very
usefull at all.

> Also, to be fair you should point out that the GPL imposes 
> restrictions some may find onerous.

That doesn't make sense. They are not forced to use GPL'ed code inside
their derivate programs, so how could they find it onerous? They can
instead write their own solution, or would the real problem be doing it

Hugs, Rui
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