Subject: Re: More licensing flames...
To: NetBSD-current Discussion List <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Greg A. Woods <email@example.com>
Date: 09/25/1998 01:05:43
[ On Tue, September 22, 1998 at 22:01:56 (-0700), Bill Studenmund wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: More licensing flames...
> So they've set boundries. You may be right that the boundries don't extend
> as far as the FSF believes, but they have given limits.
I've never disagreed with that.
Copyright licenses are all about waiving your rights under the copyright
laws. You can, of course, put limits on when and where and who you
waive your rights to, but when you're clearly advocating that everyone
be able to have something of yours for free it's awfully hard to retract
your rights only in specific situations where the law might not even
understand or agree with the distinctions you're trying to make in order
to define those unique situations.
Here's one last example. I think I've already made my point, so there's
no reason anyone still in this thread need read the following, but I
think it's a good little story and it's hopefully amusing enough to
entertain if not inform.
Let's say I'm going to write and publish books. However I've got really
deep pockets and I'm going to give all my books away for free, and I'm
going to encourage people to copy them and give the copies away for free
(in fact I insist they give the copies away for free, or merely for the
cost of dupliction), and they can even annotate their copies with their
own comments and give away copies of the annotated version for free (or
cost of duplication) too. UNLESS they happen to write their own books.
In that case they can't give away copies of my book unless they also
give away their own books under the same terms that I give away my
It's not a perfect analogy (I didn't try to work in the concept of
object code or linking), but the effect is the same.
In keeping with my analogy let's say I'm now a publisher of non-free
books and a violator of a copyright like the one above, and I'm asked to
defend my actions to a judge. I'll say: well your Honour, I'm a law
abiding business man. I employ dozens of people in this community, I
pay my taxes, and it just so happens that I really like that free book
too, and I really want to include it in my collection because I think my
customers should have a copy of it. I don't charge any money to my
customers for that book. Why should my customers not have copies of
that book if I can give it to them? Why should they have to wait for
some other schmuck to give them a copy? Perhaps they don't even know
the contestant and wouldn't know he's got a free book for them unless I
were to be the one to give them the free copy they deserve?
I'm pretty sure the judge would say: well, I see your point. The
contestant is, after all, trying to spread his book around for free and
makes every effort to do so. I see no reason why you should not also be
able to give away copies of his book as well, since if he knew who your
customers were (which he cannot because you keep you customer list as a
trade secret), he could give them all free copies at his own expense
anyway. You're simply saving him that expense while at the same time
spreading his good word. Case dismissed.
Greg A. Woods
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