[Fsfe-ie] Re: ethical interpretations of FS

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Tue Feb 3 15:23:51 CET 2004

Fergal Daly wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 27, 2004 at 11:26:02AM +0000, Ian Clarke wrote:
>>Fergal Daly wrote:
>>>On Monday 26 January 2004 14:34, Ian Clarke wrote:
>>>I'm not sure about it personally but it most certainly _is_ the philosophy 
>>>of the FSF.
>>I stand corrected, in which case I disagree with whoever wrote that FAQ 
> I do somewhat agree with that FAQ answer. I think, if I have written GPL
> code and someone else has improved it and is letting other people use that
> improved version remotely then I think those improvements should be
> available to all in source form. Otherwise, the person is taking my GPL work
> and publicly benefitting without giving anything back.

The scenario that started this discussion, however, was not me using 
someone else's GPLd code on my server without redistributing 
modifications, it was my own code running on my server which I chose not 
to distribute.

>>There are many things which might benefit the public interest were they 
>>not secret.  For example, if my e-gold password was not secret then my 
>>money could be distributed to the masses, which would probably benefit 
>>the public interest.  Does this mean that the FSF should advocate the 
>>disclosure of my e-gold password?  Should the FSF refuse to use the 
>>software of anyone who doesn't disclose their e-gold password?
> Your password would not benefit the public interest because then you would
> not keep any money in your account, in fact it would be a net loss as now
> people would be forced to transfer money to you by some less convenient
> means.

I think you are somewhat missing the point of my example.  Consider an 
alternate example - lets imagine that I am an A-list celebrity and I 
have a digital video of myself naked or something.  Is your argument 
that I should not have the right to keep this information secret?

>>The argument that I should know what someone else's software is doing 
>>with my hardware is strong and defensible, but the argument that I have 
>>a moral right to know what someone else's software is is doing with 
>>someone else's hardware (and they have a moral obligation to disclose 
>>it) is isomorphic to arguing that nobody should have any secrets about 
>>anything - which is silly.
> It's not isomorphic.
> Keeping passwords secret...
> Good: we get a trustable system of property transfer
> Bad: ??? (assuming you believe in private property there is no actual bad
> here, people just wouldn't keep any money in there accounts)
> has a very minor impact bad effect (we don't get
> your limited money) and a very large good effect on society.
> Keeping source code secret...
> Good: companies can take a bigger reward for their work, thus encouraging
> more work to be done.
> Bad: if Word was free then the number of people who could save 300 quid is
> effectively unlimited, also people could customise the software to meet
> their needs and never worry about being held to ransom by a monopoly
> The FSF would argue that the bad actually outweighs the good in the second
> case. It might be true but it's not good news for the dot commers,

So your position, according to what you have just said, appears to be 
that nobody should be permitted to keep a secret unless it is in the 
public interest for them to do so?

If so, Congratulations!  You are now WAY over on the wrong side of the 
privacy debate :-)


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