Ownership in Software

Axel Schulz axel at schulz.ph
Thu Apr 22 15:51:15 UTC 2004

Hej Matze!
Hej List,

What do you mean by ownership of speech? I never heard about this term. If we can first decide what this proposed concept means/is we have a better point of departure for our discussion.

No, I thought I while about your question and before I answer I have to now what you mean. 
But I give it a shot ;-)

1) The freedom to free speech (if you have this "speech" in mind) is a right. Everyone has the freedom to perform this right (*). No one can deny her/him that right. If you mean by "own" he has this right to free speech, yes, ownership (of the tight to free speech) makes sense.
/Special case left aside, e.g, military secrets)

2) If you consider it as something what someone said in the past, it is different. I know that many of you consider software as free speech. But I disagree with that. Speech has the internal value of being heard. Speech shall send a message. If source code is speech you should have the freedom to send a message and claim authorship to it ;-). Everyone should have that freedom (which also can be a right). 
But, if someone only distributes the binary file and does not publish (talk out loud) the source code, they should also be allowed to do so. 

In this case, ownership can be understood as the freedom to keep his speech confidential. This sounds ridiculous, at a first glance, but it is in the dual nature of software that this makes sense.

Maybe "speech" is only loosely applicable to software.

I took my main ideas for this from an article in the "Communication of the ACM". It it is called "A New View of Intellectual Property and Software". [2] Their they say that software "behaves". 

But know I want to read what you think. ;-)

best regards,

[1] http://robin.eff.org/IP/Video/DVDCCA_case/20040227_eff_pr.php
[2] http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=227237&coll=ACM&dl=ACM&CFID=20453401&CFTOKEN=54519065

(*) Please, do always keep in mind that I start from a pure theoretical concept. I know that freedom of speech is a illusion in many parts of the world. But I hold that it is necessary to agree on very basic and idelized concepts and then turn to the messy real world

Matthias Kirschner <matze at mbwg.de> schrieb am 22.04.04 10:45:19:
> Hello,
> i read this conversation with great interest. Just one question:
> * Axel Schulz <axel at schulz.ph> [2004-04-21 21:51:48 +0200]:
> > > Does it make any sense to claim ownership of food, restricting the
> > > possibility to end physical hunger?
> What do you think, does it make any sense to claim ownership of speech? 
> Thank you
> Matze
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