Subject: Re: Merger
To: Richard Stallman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Ted Lemon <email@example.com>
Date: 09/03/1994 13:46:58
The problem is that we have left people with two choices: admit that
what you are doing is wrong, or ignore us so that you won't have to
think about it. And since we're fairly strident about that, people
tend to feel embattled, and to make the latter choice.
I believe that we should think about what our goals are as well as
what our moral stand is. Our goals are to remove the legal basis for
look and feel lawsuits and to get rid of software patents so that we
can continue to produce good software that we can share freely without
fear of retribution from software vendors.
I don't believe that refusing to share code with Apple users advances
that goal. We want Apple users to believe the same thing we do: that
freely sharing code is natural, and that people can prosper in an
environment where code is freely shared. We want them to let go of
the fallacious belief that a user interface or a programming technique
can be owned.
Whether or not they buy Apple computers is immaterial - if they are on
our side, they can help us to finally win the battle in Congress. If
Apple Computer wants to sue people for look and feel infringement, but
we pass laws preventing them from doing so, then we have accomplished
our purpose. Castigating somebody for purchasing hardware from Apple
in that context is simply irrelevant, and if it prevents that person
from hearing the legitimate issues that we wish to raise, and from
helping us to win our battles in congress, then it does not serve our
purpose, no matter how morally right it may be.
When you talk about being disappointed that more hackers don't share
in the Apple boycott, and accuse them of rationalizing, you're wasting
your energy fighting a battle that can't be won. A large part of the
way that I think about free software and about my role as a hacker
comes directly from having worked with you back at the Lab and
discussed these issues (among others) over Lo Mein at the Royal Eats.
Yet you've never managed to convince me that you're right about the
Apple Boycott, even after almost a decade.
If you can't convince me, how do you expect to convince somebody who
doesn't live and breath Free Software? Worse, how do you expect to
convince a luser who couldn't hack his or her way out of a wet paper
bag? These people are not going to live ascetic lives in order to
help us win our battle, but they might be willing to sign petitions
and send letters to congresscritters.
Why can't we direct our efforts to where they can help us to succeed?