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April 11, 2002
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: A better name for CBDTPA Date: Thu, 04 Apr 2002 14:13:08 +0100 Hi, Great interview with RMS. As to discussing the CBDTPA bill: why not call it the CoBbleD TressPAss bill since it's poorly thought out and invasive. :-) Cheers, Chris M. Moore Software engineer, UK
From: Richard Kay <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: US anti-communications act Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 12:53:18 +0100 Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Seems you guys in the US have a similar problem we had in the UK with what we renamed "The Poll Tax", which the government of the day (Margaret Thatcher) named "The Community Charge" in a particularly Orwellian bit of double-speak. This particular malformed legislation cost Maggie her job. No-one now refers to the oppressive law by her name for it - everyone calls it "The Poll Tax". Following RMS's interview it seems you need to have a competition for the best rename of the CBDTPA. How about: The Anti-Communications Statute (TACS) Programming Prevention Act Programmer Unconditional Suppression Statute (PUSS). I'm sure someone can come up with something better.
From: "Chris Brand" <Chris_Brand@spectrumsignal.com> To: <email@example.com> Subject: The FTAA Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2002 16:59:28 -0800 In your interview with him, Mr Stallman said >The USA is not the only battleground: the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) >may extend DMCA-style anti-circumvention provisions from the southern tip of Chile to >the northern territories of Canada--that is what the US demands. If you live in the Americas, >please work to oppose the FTAA, particularly this April when it is debated again. The >immediate battle here is that the USA is pushing to accelerate adoption by 2003 when the >current slate is for 2005. Let's at least try to keep the schedule for 2005 so we have more >time to fight. I'd like to second this motion. Please help oppose the extension of the DMCA into the rest of the Americas. Visit http://www.ftaa-alca.org/. Read the invitation to participate. Note that there are very strict requirements that comments have to adhere to and that you only have until the end of this month to submit them. Then send them comments, even if it's only a few lines. Please. Chris Brand (Not speaking on behalf of my employer)
From: David Walker <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2002 11:12:05 -0800 (PST) Mr. Stallman writes in your interview: "I would not ban high salaries, but I think they should have a high tax bracket. As for making software proprietary, I really don't care whether it is legal as long as in practice it is rare enough to have no significant impact on society." He also writes: "Proprietary software is antisocial, so developing it is wrong." It would appear from these quotes that Mr. Stallman does not think people should be allowed to make money from their own labor, but should "donate" it to the common good or have it taken from them. As a health professional (physical therapist), I am familiar with this thinking. There are many who contend that health care should be a "human right", available to all at no cost. Nice idea until you get to the part where I must work for free. Health care is a service, not a right. Otherwise, who will pay for my lunch? In the world of computing, Mr. Stallman says that a programmer who goes to school and thinks up a unique, marketable hack must give it away. He/she/they should not be allowed to benefit from their hours of butt-numbing labor. If they manage to make a ton of money in spite of the forces arrayed against them, then this money shall be taken away by government. How is this in any way reasonable? In a free society if a guy writes a program, it is his. He can sell it or give it away as the spirit moves him. Both choices are reasonable and morally correct. Gnu is a gift that Mr. Stallman and friends have -freely- chosen to give. Nobody told them they had to, they just gave it. Linux and Gnu should be viewed in this light, and valued accordingly. Such gifts are precious. However for Mr. Stallman to suggest that it is immoral to make or use proprietary software is not supportable. Patents, copywrites and trade secret protections are a cornerstone of modern Western civilization. They were invented and developed over centuries because they were desperately needed. The founders of the United States felt the issue was sufficiently important to put it in the Constitution. That certain unscrupulous companies ("Who's the leader of the club...?") and politicians have abused the law does not invalidate the principle on which it is based. I think Mr. Stallman needs to look into the philosophical underpinnings of his belief system. Private property is not immoral in a free society. In fact, there is no freedom without private property. Freedom starts with the absolute ownership of your own body and your own labor. If your labor is not yours, you can't give it away. David Walker, Ancaster Ont. Canada
From: Ronald Cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: "intellectual property" Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 14:20:54 -0800 RMS claims that he doesn't like the term "intellectual property" because it is biased. I've given it much thought and came to the conclusion that the term "intellectual property" can reasonably only mean one thing: "trade secrets"... and the laws in that area are quite reasonable, I believe. -- Forte International, P.O. Box 1412, Ridgecrest, CA 93556-1412 Ronald Cole <firstname.lastname@example.org> Phone: (760) 499-9142 President, CEO Fax: (760) 499-9152 My GPG fingerprint: C3AF 4BE9 BEA6 F1C2 B084 4A88 8851 E6C8 69E3 B00B
From: email@example.com (Jim Dennis) To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Intellectual Property in the New Millennium: A Tempestuous Sea of Change Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 13:34:06 -0800 (PST) Intellectual Property in the New Millennium: A Tempestuous Sea of Change copyright: James T. Dennis <firstname.lastname@example.org> 2002 [License to read, publish, translate and discuss granted without fee or royalty subject to the following license: You must absolutely agree with everything I say! (*) ] Regarding the recent Slashdot article, I have a somewhat rambling rant that might be thought provoking: > Microsoft Tech Specs Prohibit GPL Implementations > > Posted by michael on Friday April 05, @10:42AM > from the difference-between-trust-and-anti-trust dept. > abartlet writes "As described in this Advogato entry, MS is trying to pull a > swifty with their latest 'release' of their CIFS (the networked filesystem > Samba implements) Technical Reference. The licence specifically prohibits > any GPLed or (or LGPLed) program from implementing it, defining it as an > 'IPR Impairing Licence'! Fortunately the CIFS community is about to release > its own Technical Reference based on earlier MS documents and long > experience in attempting to interoperate with the MS product." Microsoft's > claim is completely ungrounded - nothing written by a third-party can > take away Microsoft's intellectual property rights. But it makes a good > (read: confusing to the general public) justification for preventing others > from interoperating with their software. This is just a symptom of a much larger problem. Microsoft is only one example of this increasingly invasive and oppressive trend by large corporations to re-define laws and customs that relate to fair use. They, in essence, are trying to say that a publication (NOT SOFTWARE BUT TEXTUAL INFORMATION, AS IT MIGHT BE PRINTED) is subject to LICENSING rather than traditional copyright law. Let's give an example: If I wrote a novel, hypothetically a mystery, I could not publish it under a "license" that required people to pay me royalties for any of the "ideas" that the might implement in committing or investigating real crimes. Indeed, I can't (under our customs or traditional laws) attempt to limit the right of other people to write other novels (even if they happen to be mysteries, set in similar time periods and/or mileus, even if they have similar characters and gimmicks, even if they actually involve the "same" crime -- such as the classic "locked room" murder). If course I might have a claim if an author used the same characters (name and description), and/or the same titles or author's psuedonyms (or names, titles, or author psuedonyms that were sufficiently similar as would be likely to cause confusion --- a point where copyright starts to interface with trademark laws and traditions). I recall that there was actually a lawsuit recently (within the last year or two) where a parody of "Gone with the Wind" was at issue. Such a lawsuit would, historically, have been unthinkable (parody is specifically protected in copyright and trademark laws as a right of free speech). Although IANAL (I am NOT a lawyer) it seems that most of these "licenses" are unenforceable and without legal foundation. However, there is absolutely NO doubt that they are having chilling effect on public discourse. Countless individuals are giving up rights to their Internet domain names, their product names, and being bullied into publishing retractions etc for activities that are almost certainly legally "protected" by Bill of Rights (in the U.S.) or similar legal principles. As our legal system currently works there is a wide disparity between our hypothetical rights and the practical ability of individuals or small businesses to defend themselves in a court of law. Our tort and litigation environment is currently the principal injustice of our civilization. Thus, with the dawn of a new millennium we see the initial skirmishes between "content owners" and individual fair use rights. Ultimately the "content owners" are striving to define concepts of patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, and all other forms of "intellectual property" etc, in the broadest possible way -- essentially to control our very thoughts. (If Disney could, I've no doubt that they charge for every time a kid *dreamed* of a mouse!) Microsoft is most visible to members of the slashdot, open source, free software, Linux and related communities. However we should realize that they are overshadowed by organizations that epitomize abuse of our legal and political systems to protect their monopolies on "content." Yes, I'm referring to the RIAA, ASCAP, BMI, the MPAA etc. We also must keep in mind that the "media" (the major source for all of the "news" in the western "first" world) is basically owned by, and an extension of, the "entertainment" industry (A.K.A. the "content OWNERS"). This probably comes as no surprise to the many geeks who now rely on slashdot and other online sources far more than CNN for their news. However, it is easy to forget that most of the rest of the industrialized world gets virtually all of their second hand information about the state of the world filtered through these "content owners." Of course we shouldn't be blind to history. This struggle is not unprecedented. There are specific elements of U.S. copyright law dating back to it's inception in the 1700's from what I've heard) that exempt "fonts" and "typefaces" from being copyrightable. (It has been argued that computer fonts, such as Postscript and TrueType, are actually "programs" rather than "typefaces" in a strict interpretation --- though I think a reasonable view would hold that the INTENT of the exemption would clearly extend it to them regardless of technical details about the "new paper" and "new fangled press" on which they are implemented). Apparently there were efforts dating back almost to Gutenberg to "license" fonts and limit what could be published with them. I've heard anecdotes that suggest that Thomas Edison tried to extend the notions of copyright (and patents) as it applied to his phonographic tubes and (later) discs. (Indeed the distinction between "playing" recorded music (for personal use) and "performing" it (for the public) was introduced at that time --- with vastly different legal implications between them. In a broader socio-historical view I suspect that this is an inevitable consequence of civilization and technical progress. An industrial epoch will naturally change the relative values of goods vs. services and of tangibles vs. "intellectual property." Eventually any consumer good can be manufactured by just about anybody. Even without Trekkie "replicators" the overall trend is that consumer items become commodities --- and eventually manufacturing and distribution costs become the only relevant objective factor in choosing among manufacturers of any given commodity. Thus the manufacturers gain a vested interest in promoting subjective factors ("branding") in order to gain or retain market share and/or to command any sort of premium or margin on their goods. While these pressures push down the prices (towards cost) significant factions business seek new markets -- and the issues that relate to intangibles become more important. Historically, industries will attempt to exert political and legal pressures to protect it's business. Every existing company would like to get the "franchise" that creates artificial barriers to entry for competition. I just hope that a large enough proportion of our population can be educated enough to speak out and apply the political pressure that will be necessary for all of us to retain any semblance of our "inalienable" rights. All to often I hear fallacious references to rights being "granted" by the "Bill of Rights." However it's important to realize that the wording of that document has NOTHING to do with granting liberties. It was an effort to *recognize* that our rights are inherent, "self-evident" and "inalienable" (would that these were true in any pragmatic sense). It may sound like a nitpick, but there is a deep philosophical difference. No one, and no entity has the right to grant or deny our rights. Our government was *supposed* to be founded on the belief that our rights were inherent, SELF-EVIDENT and INALIENABLE. Clearly our current and recent legislators don't care to recognize this. (Whether they understand it is irrelevant). Each and every congressperson and senator that voted for the CDA (common decency act) and the DMCA, and that is currently sponsoring, authoring or supporting the SSSCA (or CBT-gobblegook to which it got renamed) is in violation of their oath (to uphold the Constitution) and of the public trust. Of course that is of no practical consequence. In system politicians are primarily elected based on campaign financing and there are no practical choices in most elections (usually the differences between a Democrat and a Republican in any given election are largely superficial --- when it comes to broad and long term fiscal policies). Our political system is systemically corrupt. [There are historical precendent for this, too. Most fallen civilization in history have succumbed to their own political corruption and decay]. I realize I've been speaking about these issues from a vague perspective -- referring to global issues (at least to "industrialized first-world issues) and to U.S. legal and political problems as though the U.S. was the only law that mattered in the world. It isn't my intent to be "americo-centric" and I'm sure that similar problems are evident in every other political sphere. However, I don't have solutions, not even suggestions! In closing I would like to say one other thing specifically about situation in the U.S. The Constitution of the United States of America is an imperfect document, but IT'S A DAMN SIGHT BETTER THAN WHAT WE'RE USING NOW! * (RE: This document's License: Just kidding!)