[Fsfe-ie] Re: ethical interpretations of FS

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Tue Feb 3 16:07:40 CET 2004

Aidan Delaney wrote:
>> My answer to this question is that source code should only be part of  
>> the commons when it is in control of OTHER PEOPLE'S computers.  If it  
>> is just running on my hardware I have no obligation to disclose what  
>> it is doing.
> I accept your point and ask what about services?  If my non-Free  
> software controls your services (Banking etc...) how is this different  
> from me controlling your computer, considering computers are just tools  
> to use services.

Well, I think it is important to know what you mean by "your services". 
  I am not sure that I have a right to know what goes on inside my bank, 
except as it directly affects my money.

For example, ff the whole thing is run by highly trained chimps I really 
couldn't care less provided that they don't lose my money and do the 
other things that a bank is supposed to do.

Were I the bank I would feel that I have no obligation to disclose that 
my entire operation relies on our furry friends provided my organisation 
does its job and does it well.

I think it has to be a question of property rights.  I have a right to 
know what people are doing to my property, be they a plumber or the 
author of some software running on my computer.  I think you get into 
very dangerous territory when you try to extend this notion to argue 
that I have a right to know what other people are doing with their 
property.  Yes, if what they are doing affects me, then I have a right 
to know how it affects me, but that is where my right of knowledge ends.

> At the point where the Acmesoft source code starts controlling my  
> computer, Free Software philosophy states that the user should be  
> entitled to view the source code.

No argument there.

> I'm extrapolating a little and stating that when your source code (in  
> compiled form etc...) starts controlling my services, that I would like  
> to see the source code (I'm not sure of the FSF line on this).

This is the dangerous extrapolation I am taking about, because if you 
extend your right of knowledge beyond what affects you or your property, 
it is impossible to draw a line as to where it should stop.  Before long 
you are arguing that nobody should have any secrets about anything.


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