[Fsfe-ie] Re: ethical interpretations of FS

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Tue Feb 3 16:46:24 CET 2004

Fergal Daly wrote:
>>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.
> As far as I can tell, the FSF believe that all users of all programs have a
> moral right to the source code. They also believe that you should avoid
> using any software unless it is free in an FSF way.

It is the definition of "using" that we differ on.  If your definition 
of "using" is that you run it on your computer, then I agree, but if 
your definition of using is that you have some interaction with a remote 
server on which it is running, then I don't.

> I don't know if I agree with them fully but you said to Ciaran "If your
> personal opinion is that source code should never ever be kept secret, then
> fine, but I don't believe that position is implied by the free software
> philosophy." As far as I can tell, it is central to at least one rather
> important branch of free software philosphy.

I do not accept that it can be the considered opinion of the FSF that no 
software can ever be kept secret, because I don't think it is possible 
to make that argument for software without making it for all types of 
information.  If you disagree with this, you will have to explain how 
you decide what information can be kept secret, and what information 
can't, and justify the distinction.

> I think a lot of FS advocates don't actually realise quite how radical RMS
> and the FSF are.

I do, I've seen his sandals first hand ;-)

>>>It's not isomorphic.
> ... example showing that they are _not_ isomorphic snipped ...
>>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?
> No, you claimed that the 2 situations were isomorphic I was merely pointing
> out that they are not isomorphic.

To prove they are not isomorphic you must explain why your argument 
applies to software but doesn't apply to all other types of information. 
   How do you draw a distinction, and how do you justify that distinction?

> I did not say that public interest
> criteria _should_ be applied to every aspect of life I showed that applying
> public interest criteria to these 2 situations gives quite different
> results. Therefore they are not isomorphic.

You are arguing that public interest criteria should be applied to the 
secrecy of all software.  I am asking why, if you believe that, the same 
criteria shouldn't be applied to all other types of information.  If 
they can't, then I am asking where, how, and why you draw the line 
between the types of information that can't be secret, and the types 
that can.

> I agree that "no personal secrets" is a bad thing but it is _not_ isomorphic
> to "all source code must be free for all users". If you want to argue about
> the second idea, then you will have to argue about it directly and avoid
> using analogies that are not applicable,

If you want to argue that software can't be kept secret, but other types 
of information can, then I can ask you to justify the distinction, ask 
you where you draw the line between what can and can't be kept secret, 
and why.


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