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<nettime> linux is dead, long live linux digest [brozefsky, wouters]
nettime's_arbiter_of_taste on Tue, 1 Jun 2004 06:49:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> linux is dead, long live linux digest [brozefsky, wouters]

Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>
     Re: <nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux
Paul Wouters <paul {AT} xtdnet.nl>
     Subject: Re: fwdfyi: <nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux]

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Date: Sun, 30 May 2004 15:35:03 -0500
Subject: Re: <nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux
From: Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>

* Martin Hardie <z3118338 {AT} student.unsw.edu.au> [2004-05-29 14:43:28 +0200]:

> At first glance and I will have to reread it I am thinking that one
> of the great things of Linux i.e. the appearance of
> collective/communal authorship/an example of communal immaterial
> labour is with this and other moves proceeding towards a slow
> death. But then I may be wrong. I would like to be told why ....

The Free Software Foundation has had smiliar practices for over a
decade, at least:


  "In order to make sure that all of our copyrights can meet the
   recordkeeping and other requirements of registration, and in order
   to be able to enforce the GPL most effectively, FSF requires that
   each author of code incorporated in FSF projects provide a copyright
   assignment, and, where appropriate, a disclaimer of any work-for-hire
   ownership claims by the programmer's employer. That way we can be sure
   that all the code in FSF projects is free code, whose freedom we can
   most effectively protect, and therefore on which other developers can
   completely rely."

IMO, Steve Lohr is misrepresenting the adoption of such basic legal
practices as anything to do with determining the "counterculture aura"
of Linux.

It is "countercultural" because it opposes a *temporarily* dominant
form of software production controlled by the extension of a property
model in the form of U.S. (tho not strictly) copyright and patent
legislation.  Some cultural aspects of this "property" are: a
fascination with "genius", the notion of an "author" who has legal
rights to control the propogation of their ideas, the stigma of
"plagarism", and the white mythology of the "next big thing".

The FSF position was legally, and politically more advanced than
Linux.  At the start of their project they did not envision Free
Software as not being used by governments and corporations.  They want
Free Software to be used in those environments.  Torvalds did not have
such a political vision for Linux, but it's production via the
Internet nearly guaranteed a Free Software model.

The "counterculture" which Lohr may be referring to is a
misidentification of the effects of a massive influx in youth to the
Free Software movement.  With that came anti-corporate and
anti-government ideologies, and youth pop culture as well.  A
reflexive anti-corporate ideology, such as that peddled to teens in
the U.S. for decades, will have a conflict with a Linux finally
rectifying a basic shortcoming in its management, in response to
pressure from corporate and government users.  Fortunately, young
people grow, and it would be a mistake to mistake pop culture
ideologies for the relations teens have to corporations and the
government as the imperial centers "3rd-worldize" their youth.

Sincerely, Craig Brozefsky <craig {AT} red-bean.com>
Kontact -- http://www.red-bean.com/kontact/wiki.cgi

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Date: Mon, 31 May 2004 14:22:16 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Paul Wouters <paul {AT} xtdnet.nl>
Subject: Re: fwdfyi: <nettime> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux]

On Mon, 31 May 2004, Patrice Riemens wrote:

> moves proceeding towards a slow death. But then I may be wrong. I would
> like to be told why ....
> May 25, 2004
> R.I.P.: The Counterculture Aura of Linux
> Linux, the free operating system once seen as a symbol of a computing
> counterculture, is becoming a mainstream technology and is being forced to
> behave more like one.
> A step down that path of maturity came yesterday when Linus Torvalds,
> creator of Linux, announced that software developers making contributions
> to the operating system would have to sign their work and vouch for its
> origin.

I think it is all pretty much nonsense hype. This is not an Operating System
problem, this is a Land of the Free Legal System problem. The fact that SCO
hasn't been thrown out of court and their Board hans't been thrown into jail
is the real problem. Not the universities or other groups of developers who
contribute code to free software projects in general. Should every programmer
be a qualified lawyer to be allowed to program? I guess according to stupid
unaccaptable patent agencies, and the criminals who pay Bolkenstein's pension,
they should. The land of the free belongs only to the multinationals.

> The handling of intellectual property in open source software projects
> like Linux, to which many developers from around the world contribute
> code, is a sensitive issue, given the potential for litigation, said
> George Weiss, an analyst for Gartner Inc.

Has the Gartner group ever made a contribution to the world? I've only seen
them publish rubbish.

> "It's not SCO that concerns corporate executives so much, but post-SCO and
> the uncertainty of facing intellectual property claims if they use open
> source software," Mr. Weiss said. "And this Linux move is a step in the
> right direction."

Does it? It adds so much overhead, and on its own justifies software patents,
that it will remove the programmer in the attic, the building block of free
software, from the picture. It is just another way to get back on the 
proprietary track. We can't give away software for free. We all know once that
happens, the only thing left in the US of any value is fast pizza delivery.

Let's face it, when has a company that violated the GPL been properly punished?
Did we see any of these companies, such as Linksys or the various set-top box
clone companies who stole mplayer code ever get pubished with large fines that
went back to the free software community? No.

Why aren't companies who sobmut bogus patent applications prosecuted? Why can
one patent a prime number and get away with it? Why should I spend the energy
to fights these bogus ideas?  In the current system, copyright or the validity
of patents doesn't matter, only the amount of laywers you can afford. This
system has to die. And it wil die, sooner or later. And we will all be known as

For those who wonder, I am one of the developers of a piece of free software
that has this exact problem, someone patented a prime number that is used in
the IPsec protocol (The "modp groups"). Another patent, for "NAT Traversal" is
so obvious and has prior art that it is also a bogus claim, yet thanks to
people like Bolkenstein, we now have to think about how to secure ourselves
against lawyers instead of doing what we do best, write software.

The GPL was a great hack against abuse of copyright and patents. But it seems
the usability of that hack is wearing off. 


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