One more way to say why I like it...

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One more way to say why I like it...

Post by Jenda » Thu Sep 07, 2006 5:14 am

Because of me:
I can allow myself not to worry about viruses and other malware.
I save serious cash.
I've got the powah!

Because of you:
The community surrounding Linux is very helpful...
...the one around Ubuntu is friendly, as a perk ツ

Because of them:
I support freedom of thought and speech. GPL is a way of protecting such freedoms.
I oppose all the DRM crap, patents, and overuse of copyright - at least by avoiding it.

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Post by Void Main » Thu Sep 07, 2006 6:16 am

Good post except I don't understand the part about "overuse of copyright". Copyrights are extremely important in our open source world and I'm not sure how they could be overused. Copyright is what gives someone the power to put their work under a license such as the GPL.

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Post by Calum » Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:52 am

copyrights get a bad name from people who don't know what they actually mean.

some people i have seen actually confusing them with patents.

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Post by Jenda » Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:31 pm

I have to disagree with you.
Copyrights are set at the level of about the 15th century, where protecting the work for a lifetime or two would make sense. Today, however, the 70 years set on them are ridiculous.
On another note is the way they are enforced. They are intended to 'protect an implementation of an idea, not the idea itself' (that's where the patents would come in), but are often enforced even against the core concepts (ie. copyright should not be able to prevent you from singing a song or playing your own version of it, rather from selling verbatim copies of the original.)
That would make sense today for 5 or maybe 10 years at max, and that from the publishing, not from the death of the author.

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Post by Void Main » Wed Sep 13, 2006 5:18 pm

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Without copyright (even if copyright laws have some flaws) the GPL is a waste of paper. Everything would be in the public domain. I prefer to be able to have ownership of anything I create and have some say in what happens to that work, otherwise what incentive do I have for creating in the first place? Without copyright companies like Microsoft can take any open source code they want, add proprietary extensions and close it up and then push it out to all their customers. They already do this with BSD licensed software which allows it (more public domain like).

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Post by Jenda » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:52 am

It seems to me that the GPL is only a way of using © to twist it around to something it was never meant to be, but should be anyway. In fact, in a way, it is to say that the GPL uses the copyright to create a zone, within copyright, where there are basically no copyright restrictions (save the relicensing, which would in fact remove the piece of work from this protected zone, and does not, then, interrupt the 'analogy').

I believe that the default license should be something GPL-like, perhaps the only possible way of copyright, which would enlarge this abstract zone to all intelectual property.
But I know it is a bit extreme.

Companies stealing code, like BSD-licensed code, depends solely on the fact that you may relicense BSD without consent from all the © holders, whereas GPL doesn't allow this. If there were no copyright, they could in no way relicense it, as there would be no such things as licences. You would still be able to use your code as before, and as would anyone else.

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Post by Void Main » Thu Sep 14, 2006 8:05 am

Jenda wrote:It seems to me that the GPL is only a way of using © to twist it around to something it was never meant to be, but should be anyway. In fact, in a way, it is to say that the GPL uses the copyright to create a zone, within copyright, where there are basically no copyright restrictions (save the relicensing, which would in fact remove the piece of work from this protected zone, and does not, then, interrupt the 'analogy').
Not really. As I said, it's the copyright that gives me the power to place my code under whatever license I want. It's the license where I lay out the rules for how I wish for my code to be used. In my case I as the author and copyright holder wish to ensure that my code is not closed up and that everyone who touches it will have the freedom to change it and use it however they like but that they must also pass that right along to any other people they give the code to including any changes that they made, so I choose to place my code under the General Public License because it falls right in line with my wishes. If you don't agree to the license that I as the author and copyright holder of my code choose then please don't use my code, write your own. If you do I will seek legal help to ensure that you either comply with my license or stop using my code. Likewise, I do not agree to Microsoft's license so I do not use their code. I either write my own or I use code with a license that is acceptable to me.
Companies stealing code, like BSD-licensed code, depends solely on the fact that you may relicense BSD without consent from all the © holders, whereas GPL doesn't allow this. If there were no copyright, they could in no way relicense it, as there would be no such things as licences. You would still be able to use your code as before, and as would anyone else.
You are correct that there would be no such thing as licenses if there are not copyrights for exactly the reasons I stated (the copyright is what gives me, the author, the power to place my code under whatever license I choose) but you are wrong about anyone being able to alter code in that world. It's pretty hard to alter code if you don't have the code. It's the GPL license that ensures the user has the code. As you just stated, without copyright there would be no GPL license. It is the copyright that gives me, the author, the power to put the code under the GPL license.

Again, copyright and licenses in general are not bad things. There are licenses which you may agree with and licenses that you may not agree with. I believe there are good and bad licenses. I believe the GPL license is a good license and every day it gains more ground because it is a good license. Copyright is an important legal tool and as you yourself just stated without which I would not have any say in what happens to my code because I could not protect it under my preferred license. That's not to say that this tool can't be used by someone with other than honorable intentions just as it can be used by someone with honorable intentions. They have equal power to do whatever they want with their own code. But hey, how can I complain? It's their code. They did all the work, if they don't want to share then that's their right (in my opinion). It is my goal however to make any of their work irrelevant because in my perfect world there will be all the best software that anyone would ever need protected under the best license (GPL). All proprietary software would be out of business. I just don't believe that is possible without copyright and licenses.

Now, you may have some points on some of the specifics of copyright law such as number of years, etc. I don't actually have enough of an opinion on that at the moment to argue one way or the other.

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Post by Jenda » Thu Sep 14, 2006 5:55 pm

Let us agree to disagree, then just as you suggested.

What I meant was the extreme situation where GPL is a replacement for the default public domain licence, and there is no other licence available - as in, whenever you produce SW, it is automatically under something like the GPL.

But once again, I'm not saying that system would work.

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Post by Void Main » Thu Sep 14, 2006 6:16 pm

I just did a little digging on GNU web site and since it is their philosophy I think we both agree with there is a good document that probably explains the importance better than I can:

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/

It's all a good read but a couple of snips that jump out at me (emphasis is mine):
The simplest way to make a program free software is to put it in the public domain, uncopyrighted. This allows people to share the program and their improvements, if they are so minded. But it also allows uncooperative people to convert the program into proprietary software. They can make changes, many or few, and distribute the result as a proprietary product. People who receive the program in that modified form do not have the freedom that the original author gave them; the middleman has stripped it away.
To copyleft a program, we first state that it is copyrighted; then we add distribution terms, which are a legal instrument that gives everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the program's code or any program derived from it but only if the distribution terms are unchanged. Thus, the code and the freedoms become legally inseparable.
Proprietary software developers use copyright to take away the users' freedom; we use copyright to guarantee their freedom. That's why we reverse the name, changing ``copyright'' into ``copyleft.''
Look at it this way. As that last paragraph states, copyright does give proprietary software developers the power to take away users' freedom but on the other hand it gives us the power to guarantee the users' freedom. According to the first quote without copyright (public domain software) proprietary software vendors can close the code up and take away the users' freedom. So, with or without copyright proprietary software developers can take away users' freedom but only with copyright can we guarantee users' freedom. That's the bottom line on why copyright is important. This system does work.

The importance of copyright is also spelled out right in the preamble of the GPL itself (among several other references in the GPL):
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl.html
We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software.
Having said all that, the guy who started it all (Richard Stallman) wrote a nice paper about some of the problems with copyright that I think you are referring to:

Misinterpreting Copyright:
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterp ... right.html

Copyright is necessary as described earlier but that's not to say there aren't some problems with it as you describe. I think the answer is to not do away with copyright laws but just to correct some of the problems that have come about.

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Post by worker201 » Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:19 pm

It seems to me like copyright is only necessary to protect developers from thieves. If everyone was writing their own code, or giving due credit when using another's code, we wouldn't need copyright (or copyleft). Unfortunately, some people do use others' code inappropriately, and so we have copyright/left to protect ourselves.

Can we all agree on that?

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Post by Jenda » Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:43 am

Void Main: You're still not understanding my point. You are thinking - no copyright = all is public domain. I'm saying, no copyright = all is GPL.
Two steps needed for my version - removing copyright AND changing the rules for the public domain license to something very similar to GPL.
In fact, it would be nearly achieved, because people could never close the source down (at most, they could keep it secret).
The way the GNU describes usage of copyright is in a world with copyright in place, not a hypothetical, extremely int.-prop.-liberal one

worker201: You are forgetting that copyright is also active, if not more so, with books, music, articles, speeches, designs and pretty much all creative aspects of our lives.
I don't think copyright is needed for anyone's protection - only to limit some people's rights.

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Post by Jenda » Fri Sep 15, 2006 5:08 am

And a few quotes from the copyright misinterpretation article:
that copyright is not a natural right of authors, but an artificial concession made to them for the sake of progress.
In effect, the government spends the public's natural rights, on the public's behalf, as part of a deal to bring the public more published works. Legal scholars call this concept the "copyright bargain."
This step is erroneous because strict copyright rules obstruct the creation of useful new works. For instance, Shakespeare borrowed the plots of some of his plays from other plays published a few decades before, so if today's copyright law had been in effect, his plays would have been illegal.
And these are funny:
Libraries were a key source of opposition to this bill, especially to the aspects that block the forms of copying that are considered "fair use." How did the publishers respond? Former representative Pat Schroeder, now a lobbyist for the Association of American Publishers, said that the publishers "could not live with what [the libraries are] asking for." Since the libraries were asking only to preserve part of the status quo, one might respond by wondering how the publishers had survived until the present day.

Congressman Barney Frank, in a meeting with me and others who opposed this bill, showed how far the U.S. Constitution's view of copyright has been disregarded. He said that new powers, backed by criminal penalties, were needed urgently because the "movie industry is worried," as well as the "music industry" and other "industries." I asked him, "But is this in the public interest?" His response was telling: "Why are you talking about the public interest? These creative people don't have to give up their rights for the public interest!" The "industry" has been identified with the "creative people" it hires, copyright has been treated as its entitlement, and the Constitution has been turned upside down.
and back to the proposed solutions...
One important dimension of copyright is its duration, which is now typically on the order of a century. Reducing the monopoly on copying to ten years, starting from the date when a work is published, would be a good first step. Another aspect of copyright, which covers the making of derivative works, could continue for a longer period.
Why ten years? Because that is a safe proposal; we can be confident on practical grounds that this reduction would have little impact on the overall viability of publishing today. In most media and genres, successful works are very profitable in just a few years, and even successful works are usually out of print well before ten.

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Post by Void Main » Fri Sep 15, 2006 10:36 am

Jenda wrote:Void Main: You're still not understanding my point. You are thinking - no copyright = all is public domain. I'm saying, no copyright = all is GPL.
I was only commenting on your initial post and I may have misread it as you lumped several things into one sentence:
I oppose all the DRM crap, patents, and overuse of copyright - at least by avoiding it.
If I take out the DRM and patents which I agree with you on I am left with:
I oppose overuse of copyright - at least by avoiding it.
I am saying that is the wrong thing to do with the way things currently work. By avoiding copyright the proprietary developer wins by default. You are basically putting your code into the public domain where he can use your own code against you by extending it and closing it up, something the GPL license gives protection from.
Two steps needed for my version - removing copyright AND changing the rules for the public domain license to something very similar to GPL.
That's a nice thought but if you think there is any chance whatsoever of that happening you are living on fantasy island. :) The people with all the money, power, and lobbyists at their disposal would kill any talk of that in less than 2 seconds. Now, there may be some chance of improving some of the problems with the current copyright laws as described in your last note and I am all for that but we have to use what we have available to us and right now it is the current copyright laws that give us the power to protect our code under the GPL license.
In fact, it would be nearly achieved, because people could never close the source down (at most, they could keep it secret).
So in your perfect world proprietary software (closed source) would be illegal? As I said, that's a very nice thought but no matter how hard I think I cannot imagine that ever happening. I also don't understand what you mean by "at most, they could keep it secret". I thought that was the definition of closing the sourse down but I am sure I must not understand what you mean there.

By the way, this is a great debate! I think we both want the same thing it's just that we were working from different angles. You are working with the "perfect world" angle and I am working with the "how we can use what we currently have the best we can" angle.

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Post by Jenda » Mon Sep 25, 2006 4:03 am

I am saying that is the wrong thing to do with the way things currently work. By avoiding copyright the proprietary developer wins by default. You are basically putting your code into the public domain where he can use your own code against you by extending it and closing it up, something the GPL license gives protection from.
He can't really close it up, because that would require copyrights.
There are no 'proprietary developers' without copyright, as the law then doesn't allow them to 'own' the code.
The most they can do is keep the code secret, but we know quite well that only works on a small level (code can easily be leaked) - and I personally don't mind people who keep it at home, secret... it's a bit as if i wrote my own version of Harry Potter and didn't show it to anyone.
That's a nice thought but if you think there is any chance whatsoever of that happening you are living on fantasy island.
Indeed :) I never said I thought so.

The difference between closed source and 'keeping the source secret' is that with closed source, even if you get your mits on MS windows code, you are in no way allowed to use it (even if you wanted to), whereas this way you could immediatelly offer Win XP for free download :-D

You're right - I am thinking in terms of the 'perfect world'. How typical of a novice lawyer :)

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Post by Calum » Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:51 am

this is indeed a fascinating debate. i have to agree with everything from void main so far but this doesn't mean i disagree with jenda. Jenda, you seem to be advocating your own ideal, but that's not how things are ever going to be set up. The GPL is supposed to fit in legally with the existing copyright structure, it is not an ideal at all, however i think it is very successful at righting the wrongs of copyright as it were. Anybody that chooses to use a GNU licence, in my opinion, is "buying in" to the ideal (more or less) that you advocate.

I advocate free choice and free speech, and this means i think people should have the choice of how to copyright their work, the knock on effects will play themselves out. If two people write an email client, and one is GPL, perhaps that one will become very popular and the other one won't, that's market forces in action. If you accept that our society is mainly capitalistic then you have to allow freedome of choice when it comes to money and copyrights (in my opinion).

now:
He can't really close it up, because that would require copyrights.
you've missed void's point i think. Closed source software doesn't have anything to do with copyright in essence, it just means that the distributor of a software package chooses to distribute only the binaries, not the source. Historically this is the action of someone who copyrights their software for money, this is why the GPL was created, to enable a distributor to share the code without relinquishing control (as per the heinous BSD licence that still haunts a lot of software to this day). You can see however that releasing the binaries is simply a choice of whether or not to upload the source to your distribution server (or include it on the install CDs or whatever) rather than a decision to copyright the software under a particular licence. Nobody can make changes to the code if they cannot get access to the code in the first place.

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