Possibilities for commercial software?

David Schlesinger David.Schlesinger at palmsource.com
Fri Jan 26 20:33:26 CET 2007

On 1/26/07 11:01 AM, "Dave Crossland" <dave at lab6.com> wrote:
>>  If it's not the author's wish that the software be freely
>> copy-able, which is certainly a desire the author's quite
>> entitled to have
> I am less certain, and judging from most people's actions, I think you
> are in quite a minority with this belief. I mean, most iPods are full
> of unauthorised copies, even if some of their tracks are licensed from
> the iTunes Music Store.

Weren't you the one who was asking whether an error, commonly made enough,
became correct? If everyone does it, it can _still_ be wrong.

(People need to be very careful about their "intuitive understandings".
People frequently "intuitively understand" that they haven't had so much to
drink that they shouldn't be driving. Typically, they're mistaken.)

>> you simply have
>> no right whatsoever to make (i.e. "publish") copies of a copyrighted work
>> and give them away. It's illegal. I'm astounded that breaking
>> the law this way presents no "ethical problem" for you.
> It is illegal, but the law is not an authority on ethics. It is, at
> best, an attempt to achieve justice. You seem to be saying, "If
> copying is forbidden, it must be wrong."'

No, I'm saying, "If copying goes against the author's expressed or implied
wishes, it's wrong." If the copyright notice says, "All rights reserved,"
then the author's reserved the rights, and it's unethical for you not to
respect their wishes in that regard.

> But the legal system - at least in the US - rejects the idea that
> copyright infringement is "theft." You are making an appeal to
> authority, but misrepresenting what that authority says.

This is a quibble. If there's value in the work, i.e., if the infringement
has an economic impact, then the infringement can be dealt with just as
severely as the theft of a physical asset. The judicial route is different,
but you're straining at gnats here.

> The idea that laws decide what is right or wrong is mistaken in
> general. To say that laws define justice or ethical conduct is turning
> things upside down.
>>  If you copy software (music, books, other media, etc.) without permission
>> of the author, there most certainly _is_ an ethical problem: you're stealing
>> the possibility of selling a properly paid-for copy from the author.
> I'm not sure you can steal a possibility.

Well, if you can establish that, in the absence of a "free" but infringing
copy, a person would have bought a copy sold in accordance with the author's
wishes, you've stolen a sale. If that makes you happier. Again, you're

Okay, 'splaina me this:

I travel a lot. I take a lot of photos when I travel. I actually sell photos
here and there as "stock" for magazines, advertisements, etc. You'd seem to
be of the opinion that the instant I post a reasonably high digital image
someplace where you can get at it, if you happen to have a friend who likes
my photo enough to want it in his magazine but doesn't want to pay me the
asking price, it's "more wrong" for you not to "share" it with him than it
is for him to weasel out of paying me.

(Please correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong.)

I'm not sure how the relative balance of more versus less "wrong" between
you and your pal impacts my not getting paid for your friend's use of the
photo which I took and which I own, by the way. I'm still out the fee.

>>  Or do you believe that it's "unethical" for an author to
>> a) want to be paid for his work
> No, it is totally legitimate for them to want payment, and for us to pay them.

So, you've been paying the artists for all those unauthorized copies of
songs on your iPod, or buying the CDs on which the songs you've decided you
like appear...?

>> and/or b) be able to set the terms under which his work is made
>> available...?
> No, I am not against this. Afterall, without authors being able to set
> the terms under which their work is made available, we would have no
> free software :-)

Absent copyright law, you'd have no legal means to _keep_ it free.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/attachments/20070126/4d76f8e8/attachment.htm 

More information about the community mailing list