Name: lhorn
Member since: 2002-09-17 07:14:57
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Recent blog entries by lhorn

Reading Moglen's essay

Today I finished reading Eben Moglen's essay "Anarchism Triumphant: The Death of Copyright"[1]. Altghoug I really like his style and his approach tho "intellectual property", I not that pleased with his treatment of anarchism.

His argument why comments in source code strongly indicate the non copyrightable nature of software is nice:

Though substantially involving "functional" elements, computer programs contained "expressive" features of paramount importance. Copyright doctrine recognized the merger of function and expression as characteristic of many kinds of copyrighted works. "Source code," containing both the machine instructions necessary for functional operation and the expressive "commentary" intended for human readers, was an appropriate candidate for copyright treatment.

True, so long as it is understood that the expressive component of software was present solely in order to facilitate the making of "derivative works." Were it not for the intention to facilitate alteration, the expressive elements of programs would be entirely supererogatory, and source code would be no more copyrightable than object code, the output of the language processor, purged of all but the program's functional characteristics.

Not so nice are his (few) statements about anarchism. He doesn't further explicates why

But the most significant difference between political thought inside the digirati and outside it is that in the network society, anarchism (or more properly, anti-possessive individualism) is a viable political philosophy.

And I really didn't get why

The GPL, also known as the copyleft, uses copyright, to paraphrase Toby Milsom, to counterfeit the phenomena of anarchism.

But all in all this is a nice essay. I strongly recommend to read it and if it's only for it's ironic style.

Free Documentation

I knew about the book "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" for some time and read some parts of it online. This book is an introductiory text for programming beginners starting at the very first steps. The best thing about it is that it's published under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Some days ago I read about other Free books published by Network Theory Ltd[2]. Together with the books from GNU Press[3] we are heading into the right direction. Free Documentation for Free Software! In the future I'll think twice about buying anther book from one of the big publishers if it's not Free.

Which kind of Free Software business people like (and which not)

Yesterday I was at a presentation by Libelis[1] about their JDO[2] implementation. Since JDO is a specification which can be implemented by many parties, other implementations, including as Free Software, exist.

For Libelis these projects are direct competition. This is also true for projects solving the problem of object persistence in a way not conforming to the JDO specification. The most prominent such project at the moment is Hibernate[3] which is Free Software under the LGPL.

The speaker from Libelis yesterday had much to say against Hibernate. Since it's no implementation of the JDO specification, he called it "proprietary", meaning not conforming to a "standard". Being a project with dedicated and visible people he talked about a "guru problem". All in all he didn't say a good thing about a Free Software project that is a direct competition to the product of his company.

Of course there were other Free Software projects he liked: Ant[4], Tomcat[5], and XDoclet[6] all didn't have the problems Hibernate had for him. Although all three being Free Software projects he didn't mention the problem of them being "proprietary" or the "guru problem". Since they are no competition for his project and since he can use them for his own work, they are welcome.

You may have already noticed that I totally disagree with the attitude of this person. He clearly was no part of the Free Software community, only taking and using the projects he estimated as useful while at the same time badmouthing projects that are a competition to him.

I think this is the way business people think about Free Software: Take as much out of it as possible without giving anything back. Fight all Free Software that dangers your business.

This is a bad think.


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