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Interesting speech

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by ffreeloader, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    The following excerpt is from a speech given by Richard Stallman, at the University of Pavia in Italy, where he was given an honorary degree. It's pretty interesting and I'd like to see comments debating his ideas, not slamming him, as I think a lot his ideas have merit. I don't agree with everything he says, but he is definitely correct in his stating that the way proprietary software is created, and with the rights that the proprietary developers claim to have, the system itself is one big backdoor into your computer and thus your life itself.

    If you disagree with him, show how his ideas are bad, not how you think he's a loony toon. Defeat his ideas, not him, if you can. Why? It is because his ideas are powerful that he has influence. Take away the power of his ideas, and you and I would have never heard of Richard Stallman. He'd just be another nameless IT worker buried away in a basement somewhere like the rest of us.

    Show why you think a developer has the right to invade the privacy of the individual. Show how the developer's right to make a profit is more important than the right of the individual to keep his private property, well, private. Prove it, if you think you can. Show why you think a corporation should have more rights than an individual.

    The rest of this speech can be read here.
     
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  2. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    As a developer myself, I am of the opinion that I own the software. Every line of code I write to create that program, is owned by me (or my employer). Therefore, the end user has absolutley zero control over what the program does. That said, if I want to survive in business, Id better damn well listen to their suggestions and desires.

    However, I do NOT own the data produced as a result of my application. If I create a word processing application, I own the application, but you can do whatever the hell you like with what you write in it.

    I also dont agree with the concept of not letting a user decide when the application is updated. If user A wants to use v1.0 of my application forever more, then by all means go for it. Dont expect that I will support any problems you have with the version when Im running Version 202.5, but you are certainly free to use it.

    Once you buy an application, I feel that you should own that installation. That seems to contradict what I said earlier, but I dont think it does. I own the application: the code, the functionality, the brand, etc. The users own what they paid for. You buy v1.0 of my application? You'll get an msi containing the necessary files to run the application at that version. Within the limits of my licensing (such as 1 computer per license), you own it and can install it on any machine you want. You can uninstall it and put it in a CD, then reinstall it 6 years later. I dont mind, you paid for it. But if you break into the code, replace my logo with your own, add your own name to the credits - THEN ill be pissed off.

    Does that make any sense?
     
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  3. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Why are you of the opinion that you own the software, even after you have asked the user to pay for it, and they have? Does General Motors or Ford still own the cars they manufacture after they sell them? Does a book buyer not own the book he buys to read? Is that book owned by the writer?

    Do you think it is also your prerogative to snoop on the user's computer once he has paid for and installed the software you created on his computer? What if the user has the ability improve your software? Would you deny yourself the ability to take advantage his ideas, and claim that he is somehow violating your rights by improving your product?
     
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  4. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Yes. That is what open source is all about. It's about giving the user the ability to do what they want with the software, but if they distribute it, change it and distribute it, anything like that, they must give you credit for your work. Your name must never be disassociated from your own work.
     
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  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    That's called "licensing". You've sold them the right to use that application. But you, the creator, own the application, itself.
     
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  6. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Thats the point though. Im not an Open Source advocate. Its my application, my concept, to take in whatever direction they want. I want to keep control of it. Call it greed if you want, but its true. I have no objection to using my knowledge and experience helping anyone out who wants to achieve something in code, but the code for my application is mine.

    As for your General Motors example, that works perfectly really. If I buy a car, I own the car, but GM own the make and model. They cant do anything to the car that I own, but I certainly cant reproduce it, stick my own label on it, and start selling it like that. As far as im concerned, software is exactly like that. You buy my application, you own it as an entity, but I still own the application (On a grand scale).

    On the matter of snooping. No, I dont think the developer has that right, unless its required for the functionality of the application that the user bought it for. I dont agree that I need to be transmitting that information back to my own servers either - again, unless its directly of relation to my application (in the case of licensing, transmitting the license key used in the installation to the servers to allow monitoring of breaches of licensing - but even in this case, all I would really transmit is the license key - monitoring breaches of licensing can be carried out with just that (assuming you record when it was used in your DB). I dont need to know what the user accounts on the machines are called, or what apps they are running on the machine they installed it on, besides mine. If someone wants to volunteer that information, then they can do so, and if I feel I want it, I'll ask for it, but not make it mandatory.

    As for improving my software. Yes, I do think I have the right to deny them that. Its my software. My product. The only people I want modifying it, are those people I authorise to do so. In that case, I'll pay them to do it, and I will control the changes. I have nothing against users from suggesting how to improve it, or even from wanting to join the team and actually improve it themselves (under my control), but its still my application. They can always go and write their own version of the application and do whatever they want from it.

    EDIT: I think the key, for me at least, is choice as far as data, etc is concerned. If I want personal information during an install, or details on their versions, etc, I'll ask for it. If they dont want to give it to me, then thats fine. Same with upgrades. I want then to upgrade to the newest version. Its easier to supporting to start with, but ill give them the choice, upgrade or dont, I dont mind really. You should only make something mandatory if its important to the application (like installing certain dll's etc). In that case, you can assume that, by installing the application/upgrade, they have chosen to agree to that.
     
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  7. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I think you miss part of the point of illustration about GM and Ford. I can change that car however I choose. I can replace the powerchip and modify the engine's performance. I can completely rebuild the engine and replace all the engine components with components of my choosing. I can change the suspension and change the way the car handles. I can take out the automatic and make it a manual shift, or vice versa. I can change the functionality of the car any way I choose. I can take out the entire original drive train and make the two-wheel drive car I purchased a 4-wheel drive vehicle if I so choose. It's my car to modify as I please. Sure, the car company still owns the "copyright" on the make and model, but other than that it's mine to modify. I can even take all GM or Ford name tags off the car, as long as I don't screw with the identification tags that are required by law. I can even resell that car, and at a profit if I'm able to do that.

    When I get done with that car it can bear very little resemblance to the car I purchased from the dealer. That's my right as an individual. It's my car to do with as I please, as long as I have paid for it in full and no finance company is in ownership with me on that car.

    You, or at least the vast majority of proprietary developers anyway, are denying those abilities to the users of your software. I don't know about you, but the proprietary software companies today even claim the right to deny user the right to loan his car to his neighbor.

    These are important individual freedoms, and just how, and why, do your rights as a developer override the rights of the user? Why are the developer's rights the only ones that count? In my eyes, they are not the only rights to be considered.

    You have every right to create, sell, distribute, make a profit, etc... as long as you don't infringe on my rights as a user and as an individual. As soon as you do, you are stepping across a line that should not be crossed. I don't see that the developers have any rights after the point of sale other than those copyright rights such as authors have when they write a book. I can't plagiarize their work and take credit for it either. That is completely fair, as I would not have earned my profits.
     
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  8. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Fair point. But you have to consider the fact that I dont infringe on your rights as a user. I have a license agreement you have to agree to in order to purchase the product. This is a contract that states what you can and cant do with it. Your choice, simply put, is agree, or go elsewhere for your product. I dont force you to use my product, and if you cant find another product of the same type, you could always employ someone to make it for you, or do it yourself. But you still have a choice.

    If I buy life insurance, it comes with screeds of information detailing exactly what I can and cant do, what I will get paid and why, etc. Its a choice of agree or dont there, so why is the licensing for purchasing software any different? Sure, you could probably enter into negotiations with the company, and customise the contract to suit you, but its likely to cost more in the end. Same applies for software. If you want the right to enter my code and change it how you like, ill let you, but its going to cost you more to do it.

    At the end of the day, that product is my livelihood. And at the end of the day, its mine. I can do what I like with it. Giving/selling it to others is something i CHOOSE to do, and I lay down conditions for it. I could easily write a program and never give it to anyone, only writing it for my own benefit. If I feel totally generous, Ill make the source available, and anyone can modify it in any way they see fit. Open Source is a CHOICE, theres nothing mandatory about it. Within the realms of my application I have every right to lay down whatever the hell conditions I like. GM could, if it so desired, do exactly the same thing. IBM could have done it when they brought out the PCI format (at least, I think it was PCI). That they didnt/Dont is their CHOICE.

    That does not, however extend into unreasonability in my opinion. I have no right to snoop around on someones machine for information that is not directly relevant to my application. Nor can I force a user of my product to upgrade to the new version. I can ask nicely, give them the choice, and make it clear what I want from them, but I would never go so far as to take it without permission.
     
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  9. simongrahamuk
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    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    Fergal and Freddy,

    Rep to both if you, this is one of the best, most interesting threads that I've seen on CF in a long time.

    :thumbleft
     
  10. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    Gotta say that I agree with Fergal on this one. I think that you have embraced the Open Source concept so much Freddy that you are automatically adverse to any other model. I certainly get that impression anyway.

    I think the concept of Open source can work very well, but I am also quite happy with the alternatives to it. I certainly don't feel like my rights as a user have been 'breached' because I can't modify and tinker round with all the non open source applications I use. That's not what I bought them for, I bought them to do a job, they do that for me, end of story as far as I am concerned.
     
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  11. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Dont get me wrong here guys, Im not averse to the concept of Open Source. I think its a great idea, for some concepts. Hell, I will likely participate in open source at some point, and may well actually start an application and release it to the open source world.

    I just dont agree that not bowing down to the open souce culture is automatically breaching the rights of the people who choose to utilise what I design. And I dont agree that I cant put whatever conditions I want on my software.
     
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  12. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I disagree with you. I have embraced my individual rights, and say no one has the right to take them away.

    I also don't have a problem with proprietary software, as long as they do not think they have the right to snoop on my privacy. But, the problem with proprietary software is, how do I tell if the developer is telling you and me the truth when he says his software does not spy on me? What proof do you, or I, have that he is telling us the truth about what all his software does? That's nothing against any individual developer either. That's simply knowing how human nature works, and how few people I know are really trustworthy, 100% honest, when it comes to money. If the code is not open, just how do you verify the developer's assurances?

    That must done with blind faith when using proprietary software. How many people around do you consider to be worthy of that kind of trust? Truthfully now. Outside of your proprietary software purchases, where do you place blind faith in people's word? Do you do that with a car salesman? Do you do that with any salesman other than software salesmen and developers? Would you place that kind of trust in 50%, 80%, 90%, 100% of the people you pass on the street, or in any kind of industry other than the software industry? If not, why do you trust proprietary developers to that extent? What about them says they are not prone to all the faults to which the rest of humanity is prone? Is the ability to reason deeply any assurance of a person's honesty? I certainly don't think so. I've known some really smart people who were as crooked as the day is long. I say that the smarter someone is the more watchful I need to be of them, as they have more potential to steal from me, violate my rights, etc... just because they have the ability see more opportunity because of their intelligence.

    That doesn't mean I can't come to trust people just because they are smart, but they have to demonstrate their honesty, their trustworthiness, before I'll let my guard down. And if they have been proven to have lied to me, or other people, just why should I think they have abandoned that dishonesty? What proof do I have? Their word?
     
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  13. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Nobody, least of all me, is saying that. This started out as a discussion about open source, and Richard Stallman's ideas. As far as I'm concerned it still is. Just because I'm disagreeing with you, and tearing your point of view apart, doesn't mean I am judging you.

    This is simply a debate of two conflicting paradigms and I'm comparing your paradigm to the open source paradigm. I'm asking questions for you to answer for yourself, not saying you have to act a certain way.
     
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  14. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Thanks Simon. Join in. These are interesting concepts, and I have to say I never really started to explore them until the last few years. As I have, my points of view have changed.

    Many people consider me to be a socialist because of how I view open source. I am not. Socialism at its core denies personal responsibility. I'm big on that. I'm big on individual freedoms and personal rights. I really think that open source is capitalism at its finest. It reminds of the how people used to act. How people used to help each other get ahead, not see how far they can usurp someone else's rights in the pursuit of profit.
     
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  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Being a writer, I also agree with Fergal and Modey. Only I should be able to specify how MY work is to be used, in what capacities, over what media, and using what distribution methods. If I choose to make my work freely available, I can do that. But I choose not to do so.

    "Personal responsibility" sounds great... but left to their own designs, most people (not all) will steal my work if it's freely available. If not for licensing, one person would buy the practice exams I create, and then copy it for their friends... or one copy could be resold over and over and over, from one person to another, leaving few people who actually buy (rather than "creatively rent" the software. That model would be unsustainable in the training industry. Thus, that's why licensing exists... to protect the company. If you disagree with the licensing, don't buy (or use) the product.
     
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  16. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    How about a compromise then? At least here, in concept.

    Proprietary developers (myself included, if you will), wont release their source code into the Open Source culture. You (and many others), are paranoid, because you cant tell if an application is actually breaching your personal rights to privacy (a sentiment I can fully appreciate, believe me).

    What if there was an unbiased body, globally recognised, that certifed applications as completely clear of 'snooping'. A body that was totally unlinked to any specific organisation. Development companies would submit their source code to this body for review - completely unrestricted. If its part of the application, the source is made available (A detriment to any company with uses third party dll's which arent themselves certified by this body). The body then stringently investigates the source according to a specific set of guidelines. Anything which could be seen as 'snooping' would be brought up with the company, and they would be given an opportunity to justify why this was necessary.

    At the end of the entire process, the company would either be given a certification (and the right to display the badge on their product), or would be given a list of the points where they failed (so they could improve and re-submit). Certification by the body lasts one year, or until a major version change, whichever came sooner, at which point they would need to re-submit.

    In principal, would a system such as this make you more comfortable? This gives developers the freedom to retain their source themselves, whilst simultaneously providing a method by which end-users can feel more confident that they are no being spied upon!
     
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  17. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Dont worry, I wasnt thinking you were accusing me of anything. Just wanted to make my stance clear that I wasnt actually AGAINST Open Source, I'm just FOR proprietary.
     
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  18. greenbrucelee
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    I am of the opinion that whoever wrote the code or publishes the app (say a wordprocessor)is the owner and whoever buys the app are responsible for what they do on the app, but they have no right to modify the source code of the app without the owner (company that produces it) permission.

    And a point to Freddy if you buy a car and have a finance agreement on a car the car is not your until you have paid all the finance and have no right to modify it, but if you pay for a car outright then you can do what you want.
     
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  19. BosonMichael
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    Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?
     
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  20. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I would feel much more at ease with that, but I still would not feel nearly as comfortable with that as I am with open source. Take a good close look at how MS tried to subvert the entire ISO standards process, and did subvert some individual bodies, in the process of trying to get OpenXML approved as a standard, and you'll see why. They came pretty close to subverting the entire process too. That makes me very leery of the power of extremely large organizations who are very well-funded, as they may still be able to buy their way to having their software certified as being what it isn't.
     
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