Subject: Re: This whole Apple boycott issue
To: None <,>
From: Brian Kendig <>
List: macbsd-general
Date: 09/05/1994 13:14:17
Thanks for all of your discussion, Richard; I now have a much better
idea of what the FSF is all about.

Given the choice whether to support the FSF on vague moral and
philosophical matters or to support Apple on practical matters that
matter to me here and now, I've got to choose the latter.  The Macintosh
is a solid system, it runs all the software I need to use in order to
coexist with the people I work and play with, and I am impressed by some
of the innovations Apple has made and the standards they have set -- I
want to see them prosper in the future and have more of a positive
influence on the state of technology out there.

I still have trouble understanding some of the reasoning behind your
boycott of Apple.  I think it's that you are afraid that Apple will try
to establish a monopoly on its interface concepts and sue anybody who
independently writes a program with an interface that looks like
Apple's; is that an accurate assessment of the situation?

My response to that is that I'm really not worried about it.

Apple has put a lot of money into R&D, and they've come up with a lot of
interface ideas.  (They also took some from Xerox, I know.)  For better
or worse, they have copyrighted these ideas.

Now, say one day I decide to write a program that uses some of these
same concepts because they're the best way to have the program do its
job.  Apple takes me to court.  If they can prove that I stole the ideas
from them, then they can prevent me from using the ideas.  If they can't
prove that, then I might be able to use the ideas, or maybe not,
depending on what the court decides.  Note that this assumes that the
ideas are something which it has been decided that Apple really does
have a right to place a copyright on, and that the ideas are not in the
public domain.

It's not Apple's fault that it's protecting something it developed.  I
would run into a very similar problem if I wrote music that sounded a
lot like other music, or if I sold a painting that looked like somebody
else's painting, or if I wrote a book that resembled another book very
closely.  Copyright laws exist to prevent other people from plagiarizing
your work.  If Apple hadn't copyrighted its interface ideas, then
somebody else would have (probably Microsoft?).

Don't blame Apple for putting copyright laws on its "intellectual
property" and trying to defend them -- blame the government that makes
these sorts of ideas of "intellectual property" necessary in the first
place.  If you can think of some better way to protect the rights of
people or companies against having their efforts copied by other people,
then let your local Congressman know; he'll be very interested to hear.

However, I think the courts will end up deciding that the concepts Apple
is trying to protect are in the "public domain" and therefore that
Apple's copyrights on them are invalid.

>If you want to consider a PC, consider a PC runninga free operating
>system such as GNU/Linux, or BSD--not DOS.  That is the real easy

GNU, Linux, and BSD don't run ClarisWorks and Lotus 1-2-3.  I can't
purchase Norton Utilities or good backup software for them; I can't play
F/A-18 Hornet or Myst on them.  Sure, I can get software for Linux, but
it won't be from a large company with a history of reliability behind
it, and there won't be any 1-800 number with the software that I can
call for real-time support.

If I really stuck with the idea of Linux and the FSF, and if I abandoned
Apple and encouraged other people to do the same, sure, everything might
change and the industry might really come around to embrace the idea of
free software!  On the other hand, it might also be the case that Apple
would die, and Microsoft would establish a monopoly on software and
force everybody to either sign a license with them or else shrivel up
and die.

Or maybe nothing at all would happen, except that I wouldn't be using
the best computer system available to me.  My computer is important
enough to me that I don't want to be a martyr by giving it up,
especially not over this issue that I don't wholly agree with in the
first place.

>It also goes against your own interest to spread information about the
>existence of Macintosh software that would make the Mac a more useful
>and more appealing machine.  This includes ports of GNU software, and
>any other software for the Mac.

I disagree.  I want to see the Macintosh prosper, so I want to help in
the development of MacBSD (which I will, guys, as soon as I can use it
on my IIvx, which I can't right now because I don't have access to SLIP
and another terminal).  I want to spread as much information about the
Macintosh as I can in order to make it more popular.  I don't believe in
restricting either information or software.

How does this all tie back into MacBSD?  (Yes, I did cc: it to this
mailing list for a reason!)

I think it's silly for the FSF not to support MacBSD nor to add
Mac-specific fixes to GNU software.  If the FSF ignores the Macintosh,
then it's only hurting itself.  On the other hand, if MacBSD gets
released with a whole slew of FSF-blessed GNU tools on it, then a lot of
people will be favorably introduced to the idea of "free software" for
the very first time; you'll have an eager new audience, and many of them
would be very interested in hearing what you have to say.

_/_/_/  Brian Kendig                              Je ne suis fait comme aucun
/_/_/                 de ceux que j'ai vus; j'ose croire
_/_/                             n'etre fait comme aucun de ceux qui existent.
  /  Be insatiably curious.   Si je ne vaux pas mieux, au moins je suis autre.
 /     Ask "why" a lot.                                           -- Rousseau