Dr. Seuss, licensing, and WINE (and now biology, too)

Brett Glass brett at lariat.org
Sat Feb 9 14:32:29 CST 2002

At 11:07 AM 2/9/2002, Anthony Taylor wrote:

>First and foremost, this argument seems to divide people into two camps: those that think money is the most important aspect of life, and those that think that people are the most important.  The former see no problem with forcing developers to make their code accessible to corporate exploitation.  The latter sees no problem in forcing corporations to play fairly by placing restrictions on the use of their code.

I'm afraid that your argument above makes many assumptions and assertions
which are unwarranted and/or simply false.

First, you imply that a desire for code to be truly free for all to use, for
any purpose, is a desire to benefit corporations rather than individuals.
This is not the case. It is individual programmers and small businesses that
are hurt most by the inability to use existing code, because they do not
have the resources to "reprogram the wheel." A large corporation such
as Microsoft can easily hire programmers to reimplement anything. An
individual programmer or a small business (perhaps one that would like to
compete with Microsoft!) can't. Thus, licenses such as the (L)GPL strike
hardest not at Microsoft but at its nascent competition. The MIT and
BSD licenses benefit *people* -- developers who wish to work on interesting
problems rather than being caught on a treadmill, redoing what has already
been done.

Second, you imply that the MIT or BSD license is about "forcing developers
to make their code accesible to corporate exploitation." In fact, these
licenses do not compel programmers to make their code accessible to anyone.
It is the licenses of the FSF -- a corporation which has amassed perhaps
the single largest hoard of source code in the world so as to destroy 
programmers' livelihoods -- that are coercive.

>This "zero cent" argument of his does not hold water.  If a group builds a cathedral, and a second group charges for tours of that cathedral while never contributing back to the builders, how is the money made *not* based *entirely* on the cathedral?

It is for the tour. The cathedral is a public resource which anyone can 
enter for free. Therefore, what the customers are paying for -- willingly --
is the services of the tour guide. Q.E.D. 


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