[Fsfe-ie] Re: ethical interpretations of FS

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Wed Feb 4 21:28:00 CET 2004

Fergal Daly wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 03, 2004 at 03:46:24PM +0000, Ian Clarke wrote:
>>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.
> It's not my definition that I'm talking about. It's the FSF's

I am aware of that, I was assuming that you were willing to play 
"devil's advocate" to save on verbosity.

>>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?
> No, to show 2 things are not isomorphic all I have to do is find a single
> thing that's true for one of them and false for the other. Here's the
> simplest difference I can think of "all passwords available to everyone"
> implies no password protected bank accounts. Whereas "all source code
> available to users" does not imply no password protected bank accounts (or
> at least I cannot see why it would).

Well, we are going off on a logical tangent here - but... the FSFs 
argument is that a certain thing, lets call them S, should not be kept 
secret.  Presumably they have a justification as to why all S should not 
be kept secret.  S is a subset of Y.  If the FSF can't explain why their 
justification should apply to all S but not all Y, and if it is 
obviously silly to say that all Y should not be kept secret, then their 
justification is clearly flawed.

Your observation above is simply that "passwords", an elemnt of Y but 
not S, should not be kept secret.  In saying that you are simply 
agreeing with me that it is silly to say that all Y should not be kept 
secret.  It doesn't affect the validity of my argument one way or the other.

> This is what the FSF are doing but (rahter unwisely) I'll give it a go too.
> Program: instructions which encode an algorithm which determines the actions
> of a computer.
> User of program A: a human who interacts with a computer who's output is
> materially determined by program A. I say materially determined to exclude
> stuff like the effect your private number crunching program may have on the
> execution of program A.
> Now, let's say I make a law that says any user of program X is entitled to
> the source code for program X. Why would that imply that I am entitled to
> your password or some steamy celebrity's videos? Even if you argue that your
> password or an mpg is in some way a program, I am not a user of them and so
> I am not entitled to them or their source code,

You are dodging the issue - the important question for you to answer is:

WHY would it be a good idea to make a law that says any user of program 
X is entitled to the source code for program X?

My argument is that any answer you give to this question, according to 
your, sorry, the FSF's definition of "using", would apply equally to all 
information, and would therefore be silly.

To win the argument all you have to do is answer this question and 
explain what makes your answer advocates the non-secrecy of software 
without advocating the non-secrecy of all information.


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