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Re: <nettime> Linux strikes, but whom? [4x]
nettime's gnu on Sun, 19 Oct 2003 00:13:14 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Linux strikes, but whom? [4x]



Table of Contents:

    About the Free Software Foundation's GPL compliance policy (fwd)               
     Patrice Riemens <patrice {AT} xs4all.nl>                                             

   Re: <nettime> GNU bitterness                                                    
     Martin Hardie <auskadi {AT} tvcabo.co.mz>                                            

   Re: <nettime> Old bitterness                                                    
     Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>                                            

   Re: <nettime> Linux strikes back III                                            
     "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>                                  



------------------------------

Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 18:52:49 +0200
From: Patrice Riemens <patrice {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject:  About the Free Software Foundation's GPL compliance policy (fwd)



Amidst SCO claim that the GPL having never been tested in court is
probably totally useless (besides being a communist take over plot), there
was this article in Forbes (URL somewhere underneath) portraying the FSF
as some kind of bullies harassing legitimate businesses taking too much
'freedom' with it. The following is the most interesting (immo) and funny
comment of Benjamin Mako Hill on the SummerSource list. For the amateurs.

cheers, patrice & Diiiino!



- ----- Forwarded message from "Benj. Mako Hill" <mako {AT} bork.hampshire.edu> -----

From: "Benj. Mako Hill" <mako {AT} bork.hampshire.edu>
Cc: summersource-l {AT} lists.tacticaltech.org
Subject: Re: [SummerSource-L] FSF's GPL compliance lab
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 19:07:00 -0700

WOn Wed, Oct 15, 2003 at 07:46:36PM +0200, Patrice Riemens wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 14, 2003 at 08:05:06PM -0400, David Turner wrote:
> > This led to an article in Forbes critical of my work:
> > 
> > http://www.forbes.com/2003/10/14/cz_dl_1014linksys.html

> "I am not so optimistic (but that's, err, my 'profession') According
> to me, IPR owners are on the revolutionary war path. They want to
> subvert the legal system in such a way that only purely commercial,
> corporate law prevails.

I think there are limits to how far this can be pushed, or at least in
the ways it can be pushed, within global legal systems, Constitutions,
etc. The software patent stuff in Europe this summer was one
example. There are lots of relatively recent US Supreme court rulings
that seem to reinforce (and protect) the way that this *isn't* the
case.  But perhaps that is me being more optimistic than I should.

IMHO, the problem so far is the lack of public interest in
intellectual property. However, when pushed too far, IP *does* arouse
anger and this *does* provoke results. The Girl Scouts thing was a PR
disaster for ASCAP and the recording industry. I think that
publicizing things like the fact that Happy Birthday is copyrighted is
good because people are surprised and disgusted. I think that once the
NET act is used and US kids to start going to jail for felony
copyright infringement in numbers significant enough to realistically
attempt to stem current sharing, people are going to be forced to look
long and hard at whats going on in a way that they haven't yet -- and
there's no way they can like it.

> With other words, if you do not (wish to) operate within the
> commercial format as understood by the corporates, you're out.

What about assuming the corporate form as a way of claiming corporate
rights or, if you want to get real edgy, acting irresponsible in such
a way and on such a scale that it makes certain types of protected
corporate irresponsibility unsustainable?

Another argument is that the GPL can prove profitable for companies so
it's not anti-market. I tend to buy into this one. MySQL, for example,
chose the GPL instead of another licenses because they believed, and I
believe they have been proven right, it would be more profitable and
allow them act more like a big nasty corporation than the
alternatives. I don't buy the argument that Free Software or copyleft
must exist as counter to or outside a capitalist or market driven
systems -- it just can.

But back to the article, it remains that setting terms, even broad and
invasive ones, and then enforcing them is exactly the business that
the proprietary software industry is in. Trying to stop *us* from
doing this would hurt them as much, perhaps more, than it hurts us.

In case any care, my highly editorialized summary of the article is:

  Businesses get scared when they realize that the free software crowd
  is not just bearded hippies giving away stuff (no strings attached)
  and talking about peace and love -- somewhere somewhere half
  considers suing IBM for false advertising. Companies realize that,
  in fact, they are dealing with a large effort led by a number of
  bearded hippies and a whole bunch of often-beardless non-hippies
  with goals, visions and the drive to have these visions
  realized. Yep, they actually mean all those things they've been
  saying.

  Companies now need to actually *read* licensing agreements -- no
  wait, that's not any different. Well they now need to deal with the
  consequences of not following these agreements -- oh wait, they do
  that already too!

  In any case, someone's upset that the free in Free Software doesn't
  always mean "free ride" and that some people's idea of a commons and
  the open in Open Source -- ideas that the upset people never bought
  into and probably never even tried to understand -- didn't mean
  "open for exploitation." The Free Software folks politely say
  something like, "sorry about your confusions. The hacker solutions
  is something called RTFM. You got a copy with the software whose
  license you violated. Now deal with the consequences."

  Such a pity, comrade.

Feel free to quote me off-list. :)

Regards,
Mako


- -- 
Benjamin Mako Hill
mako {AT} bork.hampshire.edu
http://mako.yukidoke.org/

Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so
far as society is free to use the results. --RMS



- ----- End forwarded message -----


------------------------------

Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 15:06:08 +0200
From: Martin Hardie <auskadi {AT} tvcabo.co.mz>
Subject: Re: <nettime> GNU bitterness

>I think free software programmers are subjecting themselves to
>exploitation.  But, it's not a financial exploitation that worries me.

This is extremely interesting and important and a point that is often 
lost in all the talk about liberatory possibilities.

Some of the acaemic work I read from the US seems not (obviously) to be 
aimed at a oexenux type communism nore even any critique of the 
proprietary/corparate model but insetad it seems to suggest that this 
great pool of unwashed "labour" is indeed a useful, efficient and 
profitable thing for "busienss" to exploit.

I see broadly two directions, the new way of doing things that can move 
us beyond the machine of capital or its present configuratiosn and the 
other side where capital will seek and is in fact capturing the 
OS-FSwearers as a malleable pool of free labour - some will get "work" 
managing the code for business and the market whereas the vast majority 
may only be left with just a hope of their reputation one day putting a 
pizza on the table.

In this way I see the future of OS and FS as being intimately tied to 
the future of "work" and capital's need/desire to move well and beyond 
the wage. As such IP may be the new focus of struggle that was in the 
olden days inhabitied by the wage.

Martin


august wrote:

>On Fri, 17 Oct 2003, Francis Hwang wrote:
>
>  
>
>>... so even if you think he's [Stallman] too prone to get into
>>internecine squabbles or that he should pipe down about calling it
>>"GNU-Linux", he gets more geek points than you'll ever have. 
>>    
>>
>
>
>Stallman's bitterness is interesting to me.  His notions of 'freedom' have
>introduced a shouting match in his advertising scheme that he is
>apparently losing. I have to wince everytime I hear him say 'it's
>GNU-Linux, not Linux'.  [1]
>
>Often times I feel that free software works in the same way as does free
>trade. That is, winner takes all and only the strong and loudest survive.
>
>It's apparent that normal economics don't really work with software, much
>less in the realm of free software. However, if a company was smart, they
>would hijack a free software project, rename it something else and market
>it as their own achievment [with or without releasing the source code]. 
>They could keep the copyright in tact, but hide it in the code itself, or
>maybe publish it in tiny font on the webpage somewhere. Most likely, a
>decent sized for-profit company would have enough resources to out-code
>and *out-shout* some individual hacker or small cohort of programmers. [2]
>
>The free software world does have a dark side.  It's not all roses and
>butterflies.  This kind of 'hijacking' of attention happens in a lot of
>ways.  Here is one tiny and probably harmless example: Andrew Stevens'
>brilliant mpeg2 encoder, which includes a lot of high-level mathematics
>and is part of the mjpeg tools <http://mjpeg.sourceforge.net/>, was taken
>almost 1-to-1 into another set of really brilliant software at
><http://heroinewarrior.com/libmpeg3.php3> written by Adam Williams.  At
>first the encoder came with almost no mention of the original author. 
>Now, the package has been changed into something else entirely. 
>
>I think free software programmers are subjecting themselves to
>exploitation.  But, it's not a financial exploitation that worries me. 
>Not only are a number of resources wasted and feelings hurt in such a
>scenerio noted above, but on a larger level, this could mean a heck of a
>lot more. 
>
>How the production of free software is fueled is a bit of a mystery still. 
>There are numerous tactics, but personal advertising is one important
>energy source.  It's no wonder to me that Ogg Vorbis comes with a BSD
>style license <http://vorbis.com> & <http://xiph.org>.  They are after the
>attention. Their work depends highly on it.  If they can get enough
>companies to add Ogg support to their hardware players, they gain a much
>larger audience for their effort, and most likely a number of open doors
>to funding opportunities.  I think this is completely legitimate.  But,
>what if someone changes the Ogg name or hides it under some other
>advertising umbrella and robs them of their due attention?
>
>Maybe I am over-reacting a bit, and this is realy just a fly in the
>ointment or the ants at a picnic.  But, I do see a problem, and I don't
>think it's the kind that will just sort itself out naturally. I doubt that
>someone who's code or ideas had just been legally hijacked and advertised
>as something else would be able to live with the simple flattery and a big
>fat sack of nada as a reward for their hard work. 
>
>This kind of 'freedom' is not really new, but becoming more and more
>noticeable to me.  Spam and Trolls on mailing list are other examples that
>I might note. 
>
>I certainly don't mean to justify intelectual property rights, but just
>want to set up some warning flags. 
>
>free as in speech, but also free as in trade. 
>
>-august.
>
>
>
>notes
>-----
>
>1: For those who don't know, GNU is Stallman's organization that started a
>legal idea of free software.  Linux is 'just' the kernel that is part of a
>larger operating system.  There is a GNU kernel which would make for a
>rather complete GNU unix clone, but most just uses the linux kernel.
>
>2: a company could probably make a profit by linking a software mpeg2
>encoder with hardware devices or by selling support.  
>
>
>#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
>#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
>#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
>#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
>#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net
>
>
>  
>

- -- 
"the riddle which man must solve, he can only solve in being, in 
being what he is and not something else...."



------------------------------

Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 11:21:17 -0500
From: Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Old bitterness

august <august {AT} alien.mur.at> writes:

> Stallman's bitterness is interesting to me.  His notions of
> 'freedom' have introduced a shouting match in his advertising scheme
> that he is apparently losing. I have to wince everytime I hear him
> say 'it's GNU-Linux, not Linux'.  [1]

It is not his notion of freedom that introduced the shouting match
about what to title the collection of Gnu and non-Gnu software
distributed with the linux kernel.  It would be an issue with any
sizeable collection of software.  Even a proprietary license would
have little traction in getting distributors, let alone the general
public, to refer to it as GNU/Linux.

> Often times I feel that free software works in the same way as does free
> trade. That is, winner takes all and only the strong and loudest survive.

The winner takes all of what?  The loudest survive?  Hardly.  Even in
the arena with the most money, the most shouting, Linux Distributions,
there is no clear winner and new distributions pop up every month.

> Maybe I am over-reacting a bit, and this is realy just a fly in the
> ointment or the ants at a picnic.  But, I do see a problem, and I don't
> think it's the kind that will just sort itself out naturally. I doubt that
> someone who's code or ideas had just been legally hijacked and advertised
> as something else would be able to live with the simple flattery and a big
> fat sack of nada as a reward for their hard work. 

When code and ideas are owned, are property, they are subject to the
same laws of accumulation and concentration as all other property in
our global economy.  The concentration of software patents in large
corporations and the defacto assignation of copyright to the employer
for work done for hire are concrete examples of this.

When code and ideas are not owned, are not property, they are not
subject to the same laws of accumulation and concentration.  Without
the artificial scarcity created by present day intellectual property
regimes, we get an explosion of software of a diversity and energy
that threatens even the most well-funded multi-nationals.

In place of the the artificial scarcity of code and ideas, you are
suggesting a scarcity of attention.  Not just any attention, but
attention which can be parleyed into income.  Attention and marketing
of this sort is part of "off the shelf" retail software, but that is
such a tiny part of software production.  It does happen to be that
part that gets the most press attention, which is logical considering
that it is that part which funds the press thru advertising.

The attention economy is part of the exchange economy for a limited
portion of software.  What is occuring with Free Software is a change
in the production process.  Meaning, the way software is made is
changing.  What you point out is the historic tension between old
exchange mechanisms and the new production process.  Those who base
their livelihood on the old exchange mechanism, wether multinationals
or small proprieters, will resist the change in the production of
software because they are threatened by it.

> It's apparent that normal economics don't really work with software,
> much less in the realm of free software. However, if a company was
> smart, they would hijack a free software project, rename it
> something else and market it as their own achievment [with or
> without releasing the source code].  They could keep the copyright
> in tact, but hide it in the code itself, or maybe publish it in tiny
> font on the webpage somewhere. Most likely, a decent sized
> for-profit company would have enough resources to out-code and
> *out-shout* some individual hacker or small cohort of
> programmers. [2]

This is not feasable, and not even venture capitalized, IPO popping
businesses were able to pull it off with all the capital they had.
For one, the company would have to flush google of all the references
to the original development team who had been working on the project
prior to the hijack attempt.

In reality what has happened is the company hires the original
developers, or hires peripheral developers who were working on the
project already.  Examples: RH, IBM, Caldera, Collab.net, SUSE,
Compaq, HP, Dell, SGI, Sun...

After reading this, I have to wonder how much experience you have
developing Free Software, or software at all.

> I think free software programmers are subjecting themselves to
> exploitation.  But, it's not a financial exploitation that worries
> me.  Not only are a number of resources wasted and feelings hurt in
> such a scenerio noted above, but on a larger level, this could mean
> a heck of a lot more.

There is no exploitation more critical than that which allows code and
ideas to be accumulated into the hands of a few.  Overcoming this is
the only way software can escape the profit and militarization pit it
has been contained in for the whole of its life.

- -- 
Sincerely, Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>
No war! No racist scapegoating! No attacks on civil liberties!
Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism: www.chicagoantiwar.org


------------------------------

Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 10:14:05 -0700
From: "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Linux strikes back III

Along these lines:

It's somewhat enlightening to read "The Cathedral and The Bazaar" now that a
few years have passed since the '98 release.  At the end of the piece,
Raymond holds up Netscape and the Mozilla project as an example of the
success of the bazaar model.

Er, right.  How many years did it take them to ship?  From an open-source
coding perspective, Mozilla was a triumph.  Judged by business or end-user
standards, it was a disaster.

IMHO open-source represents a model that works very well within the context
of the _self-selected_ hacker community but may not have much applicability
outside that realm.  Small, homogenous groups can have self-governing
principles based on whatever ideology works for them.  That's not to say
that these principles are transferrable to other groups (open-source
athletic teams, anyone?) or to society at large (mmm, open-source highway
maintenance!)

- -- Eric

On 17-10-2003 16:15, "noci" <nochi {AT} gmx.net> wrote:

> 
> Hardie wrote:
> Why can't fsfer's think of law and its organisation in ways other than
> proprietary/closed systems? Why do people who profess to be at the
> cutting edge, pushing Paul Keating's proverbial envelope, feel the need
> to hide behind old ways of thinking about law?
> 
> 
> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
> because the rest of the world out there sadly does not function the same
> way as the open source community does? or is that just me overly
> simplifying things?
> 
> I'd like to know more about the "ways other than
> proprietary/closed systems"-thinking. what's your idea? was that in your
> post or did I miss out on something?
> 
> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
> 


------------------------------

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