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LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
PostgreSQL 9.3 beta: Federated databases and more
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(Nearly) full tickless operation in 3.10
Invent a catchy tune and sing it around others, and they will sing it too. You have a natural right to stop them, or demand compensation?
Only a few centuries of stable contract law and "property rights" and people start taking it for granted...
Villa: Pushing back against licensing and the permission culture
Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:32 UTC (Wed) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
Ownership of property is a Natural Right. Property includes intangible entities such as software. Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creator of intangible entities such as software. So copyright is a reasonable extension of the Natural Right of ownership of property.
Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:41 UTC (Wed) by jubal (subscriber, #67202)
Is it now?
Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:53 UTC (Wed) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
Posted Jan 30, 2013 21:22 UTC (Wed) by jubal (subscriber, #67202)
Posted Jan 30, 2013 21:39 UTC (Wed) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106)
This is also why copyright and the like have nothing to do with any natural law: the punishment sought for copyright infringement is not proportional to the supposed offense. Copyright is fundamentally different from natural-law property rights founded on the requirements of scarcity. Fines and imprisonment are grossly disproportionate responses. The most one could claim under natural law is that there is no obligation to recognize the copyright claims of a copyright infringer, which few copyright infringers would object to.
Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:18 UTC (Wed) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
You're assuming that humans have a shared sense of right and wrong.
Posted Jan 31, 2013 0:31 UTC (Thu) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106)
Actually, no, subjective ideas about "right" and "wrong" don't factor into it. Again, that's part of why it's a natural law. Basically, the one /being/ punished gets to choose the rules, but must apply them universally: they can't judge their own aggression by one set of rules, and the response by another.
Posted Jan 31, 2013 3:59 UTC (Thu) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
Posted Jan 31, 2013 5:09 UTC (Thu) by jthill (guest, #56558)
Posted Jan 30, 2013 23:15 UTC (Wed) by tjc (subscriber, #137)
You do realise that not everyone subscribes to the idea of natural law, and that Locke's is not the only one interpretation, right?
There isn't anything that everyone subscribes to, except maybe trivial observations such as "the sky is blue." (And it's not, of course, but that discussion would probably be a pointless digression.)
Any philosophical argument is based on assumption. This is one of the reasons I miss Hitch — he did a superb job (well, some of the time, anyway) of arguing positions that I thought were based on assumptions that were utter rubbish.
So the question that anyone with more objectivity than hubris should ask themselves is, "what if my assumptions are wrong?"
Posted Jan 30, 2013 18:35 UTC (Wed) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106)
Ownership of a good consists of the right to consume it, to use it up. As such, ownership only comes into play when someone else consumes your property. The exclusivity of this right is merely a side-effect of scarcity: two people cannot both consume the same scarce good. Intangibles are not scarce and cannot be consumed, ergo ownership does not apply.
The rights to restitution and retribution which permit the enforcement of natural property rights are justified only on the basis that they are a response in kind to damage caused to your own property. This is why property is called a natural right: one cannot usurp anothers' property rights without providing the justification for a response in kind. There is no justification for seeking restitution or retribution simply because someone /benefited/ from your work while causing no harm to you.
Posted Jan 31, 2013 13:24 UTC (Thu) by etienne (subscriber, #25256)
Harm to you is present when someone force you to pay to use the software you have written yourself (because of some technical reasons you cannot recompile your own source), and when a big company "embrace and extend" your own software in closed source and you have to work to stay compatible, even when the additions are not useful.
Posted Jan 31, 2013 15:44 UTC (Thu) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106)
Others are under no obligation to give you back a copy of software you've written, in source or binary form, just because you were so careless as to misplace it or the means of compiling it. Others are under no obligation to make it easy for you to duplicate /their/ work in developing extensions to your software.
While there are many ways to define "harm", the justifiable responses to "harm" are restricted to those proportional to the offense. Even if one granted that "embrace-and-extend" harms the original author of the software, injunctions, fines, and the like are well outside the limits of proportional response.
Posted Jan 31, 2013 18:08 UTC (Thu) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
Yes. This is correct.
This is based on physical reality. You have to be in control of a item in order to use a item. You can't get away of this. You can claim that something is 'publicly owned' or that it's communal property or something like that, but in the end somebody has to be in control of it at some point to use it. If you don't believe me try having two people simultaneously use a single spoon to eat food.
Property rights is the term that is given to describe how we delegate control (aka 'ownership') in order to avoid and resolve conflicts.
> Copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to the creator of intangible entities such as software.
No it's not. Copyright does not grant _any_ rights. You would still have the same rights to use your creation with or without copyrights.
To understand what is going on:
'Copyright' stems from government censorship. When the printing press came out it threatened the stability and security of government by making it dramatically cheaper to distribute ideas and knowledge. Control of the spread of ideas is a important thing to have when you are a ruler of a population. So they made it illegal for people to own and operate a printing press unless they had a special license that came with a number of restrictions (such as having all published works inspected by a government censor). This license was called 'Copyright'. A author had to sell their works to a licensed publisher to legally get their writings duplicated and disseminated.
The publishing houses that became very wealthy and powerful under this regime used their wealth and power to influence the governments of the day to re-establish and maintain copyright rules in order to limit copying in order for them to limit competition from smaller publishers.
This system has evolved into the modern copyright system of today.
The modern copyright system cannot grant 'rights' over intangible property. It simply does not have the power or authority to do that. To do this would require changing the basic functionality of the universe to control the flow of information.
Instead Copyright functions by violating the property rights of entire populations. It controls, under threat of fines, imprisonment, and other forms of violence, the ability for individuals to use their own physical property to record and disseminate information. Ostensibly this is done to create economic incentive for people to write and publish various things, but it increasingly going back to it's old roll of censorship... using copyright to control the flow of information for political reasons.
> . So copyright is a reasonable extension of the Natural Right of ownership of property.
No. In fact it's a gross violation of natural right of ownership of property.
Posted Feb 6, 2013 22:04 UTC (Wed) by gerv (subscriber, #3376)
To quote another commenter: does it now? This statement needs significant supporting argument.
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