How Richard Stallman’s GPL Platform Backfires on the Free Software Movement

Posted on August 5th, 2009 by bile
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The bullying of the copyright industry in Sweden inspired the launch of the first political party whose platform is to reduce copyright restrictions: the Pirate Party. Its platform includes the prohibition of Digital Restrictions Management, legalization of noncommercial sharing of published works, and shortening of copyright for commercial use to a five-year period. Five years after publication, any published work would go into the public domain.

I support these changes, in general; but the specific combination chosen by the Swedish Pirate Party backfires ironically in the special case of free software. I’m sure that they did not intend to hurt free software, but that’s what would happen.

The GNU General Public License and other copyleft licenses use copyright law to defend freedom for every user. The GPL permits everyone to publish modified works, but only under the same license. Redistribution of the unmodified work must also preserve the license. And all redistributors must give users access to the software’s source code.

The highlighted statement is incorrect. As the Ars Technica states: “Copyleft is an important part of Stallman’s vision because it compels companies that use copyleft code to open their own source code when they might not have otherwise been willing to do so voluntarily.” A right, freedom, comes from within. It is negative. It can not place an obligation on another which has not been voluntarily entered into. There can not be a right to education or healthcare in that it is someone’s obligation to provide you with them. To claim such a thing is to claim to have the right over another’s labor meaning they are your slave. In the same way copyright, and therefore copyleft, are an affront to the liberty not only for the publisher but the user. Copyright makes the customer the slave to the producer and copyleft the producer the slave of another in the name of the consumer. Rather then advocating co-slavery, where the real master are those in positions within the government and their fascistic friends, let us advocate the emancipation of all those held under the thumb of organized violent institutions.

How would the Swedish Pirate Party’s platform affect copylefted free software? After five years, its source code would go into the public domain, and proprietary software developers would be able to include it in their programs. But what about the reverse case?

Proprietary software is restricted by EULAs, not just by copyright, and the users don’t have the source code. Even if copyright permits noncommercial sharing, the EULA may forbid it. In addition, the users, not having the source code, do not control what the program does when they run it. To run such a program is to surrender your freedom and give the developer control over you.

One can not surrender one’s freedom except in that case were they have aggressed against another. And then only to the extent to which is necessary to stop the aggression. The user gives up no freedom when voluntarily using closed source software. Stallman is looking to actually restrict user’s freedom by attempting to use copyright to force companies to work within his free software paradigm and restricting the marketplace. If FOSS is indeed a better way for all involved it will naturally become the dominant method of software development and distribution in the market naturally. There is no need to force it into being through threats and violence.

We also use copyright to partially deflect the danger of software patents.

More artificial monopoly privileges will not fix artificial monopoly privileges. Approach this problem from a true freedom oriented perspective and all these contradictions will disappear as will this endless tug of war for power over the State.

I could support a law that would make GPL-covered software’s source code available in the public domain after 5 years, provided it has the same effect on proprietary software’s source code. After all, copyleft is a means to an end (users’ freedom), not an end in itself. And I’d rather not be an advocate for a stronger copyright.

Fundamentally there is no difference between what Stallman advocates and what the stricter copyright people advocate. It is an argument over degrees and not kind. It is an argument that will never be resolved so long as the conversation is held within this intellectual property box. As long as Stallman and those who agree with him can do sue companies for GPL violation (and win)… the RIAA can restrict individual’s access to things they purchase and the game console companies the same. Freedom on all sides would allow the market place to find the best solutions for all those involved without all the unproductive fighting for control and as Eric S. Raymond pointed out… the fear it creates.

A real analysis of the FOSS community I believe would show that FOSS works without copyright. Through voluntary means software stays more or less open as the original author desired. Projects which are slow to change or allow outside participation are forked or replaced and the best method for the community wins out. Those companies which fail to release modifications to the source which they’ve used in their products are ostracized often leading to the code’s publication. If the general customers of their products are displeased with the lack of openness or product flexibility they will take their business elsewhere. They will succeed or fail in the market as everyone else. Artificially sustaining FOSS through monopoly privileges is economically and therefore socially regressive and destructive. It has no place in a free society.

For more information regarding intellectual property monopoly:

Service Nation asks for your opinion, lets give it to them

Posted on June 29th, 2009 by bile
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From: Alan Khazei <>

Dear bile,

I just returned from this year’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco, an outstanding event where more than 4,000 service leaders gathered to celebrate our achievements and plan the path forward.

This is an extraordinary moment for our movement, with a new law on the books promising unprecedented federal resources for service; people across the country becoming more engaged in their communities than we’ve seen in a long time; and a President and First Lady in the White House who come from the service world, and who want service and civic engagement to become a part of every American’s life.

So many terrific ideas came out of the event, and you’ll be hearing more about them in the weeks and months to come. But before that, we need you to become a part of this discussion.

Our supporters on the ground are the ones who powered us from the beginning.  And today, it’s your input and your ideas that will carry us forward as we plot out the next steps for this organization – and for the service movement as a whole.

Please fill out this short survey – your feedback will help shape the future of ServiceNation:

If you didn’t make it to the Conference, there’s a lot to fill you in on. Here are a few of the highlights from the event:

-    The crowd gave a hero’s welcome to Michelle Obama, the keynote speaker, who talked passionately about the White House’s commitment to service and the need to find innovative ways to expand it.

-    I had the honor of interviewing Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California, about her path-breaking efforts to strengthen service in that state. (More to come about that interview in a follow-up message.)

-   The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) announced a week-long October campaign to promote service on all the major TV networks. This is a big opportunity to get new people involved in service, and it’s something we’ll all be hearing much more about in the months ahead. As part of the announcement, we were treated to a terrific concert from Jon Bon Jovi, a longtime friend of the service community who came to the Conference as a representative of EIF.

-    ServiceNation also was proud to host a luncheon for hundreds of service champions.  Melody Barnes, President Obama’s chief domestic policy advisor, spoke movingly about the future of service in America, and all the attendees participated in a strategy discussion led by Arianna Huffington, EIF’s Lisa Paulsen, and Colin Jones, a current AmeriCorps VISTA serving with the program BUILD in San Francisco.

With so many people across the country spending time this week to talk about what’s next for the service movement, it’s absolutely essential that you get involved in the discussion. We want to know more about you, your impressions of the work we’ve done so far, and your thoughts on where we should go from here.

Please fill out the survey today:

Thanks – we’ll be following up with more takeaways from the Conference soon.


The multiple choice sections are limited but there are opened ended areas to let Alan and friends know that we don’t appreciate the move toward national servitude.

Opie and Anthony go on half hour anti-tax rant

Posted on June 4th, 2009 by bile
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MHD vs the Cult of the Presidency

Posted on June 4th, 2009 by bile
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After we had the great opportunity to sit down with Ron Paul in Lake Jackson, TX office we hit the road, driving north on 288 toward Houston, where we had a meetup later that evening. Off the west side of the highway we saw a collection of busts of former presidents. Obviously someone thought these guys were such good people that they deserved to be showcased.

We didn’t.

For more on this check out The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Tom Woods and The Cult of the Presidency by Gene Healy.

Any respect for John Stewart continues to erode

Posted on May 5th, 2009 by bile
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The rightwing attacked Stewart for his cool and well-thought-out position that Truman was a war criminal for his atomic bombings.

So here Stewart is, cravenly retracting his wonderful moment of truth and logical consistency. He bends over backwards to make himself look respectable, to laugh off his “stupid” condemnation of Truman’s murderous actions.

Of course Truman was a war criminal. Beyond Hiroshima and Nagasaki was Operation Keelhaul, whereby Truman helped Stalin round up millions of expatriates and subject them to Soviet slavery (and in many cases death). Then there was his undeclared war of aggression in Korea, where he targeted civilians with napalm and deliberately destroyed dams to flood villages filled with helpless people.

Truman is one of my litmus tests for the left. For all their problems, leftists who at least are antiwar enough, and nonpartisan enough, to recognize that Truman, domestic dictator, architect of the Cold War and butcher of millions and destroyer of cities, is not any more admirable than the relatively less criminal George W. Bush, tend to get my respect. Those who defend Truman’s acts of mass barbarism represent all the worst “liberal” ideals of the 20th century. On the other hand, those, like Stewart, who seem to have the instinctual desire to speak the truth, only to backtrack and defend one of history’s greatest murderers, are perhaps even more obnoxious than the latter group.

Huffington Post commenters are painfully ignorant: criticize Ron Paul on secession statements

Posted on April 20th, 2009 by bile
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The article itself is fine but the comments are beyond ignorant. Rather than looking into the historical facts which Paul spoke of or attempting to argue political theory, philosophy, or the language of the US Consitution these Huffington Post’ers just blather on.

  • The war against the CSA did not answer the question of secession. It answered the question of who was more powerful / had more people to send to their death.
  • The Constitution makes no mention of secession. In the early years of the country there was no question that if a group could voluntarily enter into a governing agreement that they could not back out of it. The Declaration of Independence points this out clearly.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  • Ron Paul has not all of a sudden, due to a black (he’s not “black” but born of  “white” and “black” parents, what is this the slavery “one drop” days?) president, start supporting the concept of secession. It’s an ignorant and likely bigotted statement to claim such a thing.
  • Ron Paul does advocate removing at least the property rights infringement aspects of the Civil Rights Act. The federal government has no authority to make such a law and it’s a gross infringement to one’s right to property.
  • FACT: The Pledge of Allegiance was created by Francis Bellamy in the late 1800′s to get people to more or less worship the state given he was a a state socialist and a flag salesman who would gain from such a pledge becoming popular.
  • IMO it helps to make actual arguments based on logic and facts rather than mud throwing and ad hominems.