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

Posted on August 5th, 2009 by bile
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http://www.gnu.org/…

http://arstechnica.com/…

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:

Pirate Bay launches VPN service

Posted on June 16th, 2009 by bile
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http://www.wired.com/…

The operators of The Pirate Bay launched a long-awaited VPN service Monday, promising to make file sharers and other internet users more anonymous online.

The IPREDATOR Global Anonymity Service, at about $7 monthly, is named for Sweden’s IPRED law that went into force in April. That law empowers copyright owners to acquire data from ISPs identifying people linked to file sharing.

The four operators of the Pirate Bay are staring down a year in prison each, and millions of dollars in fines, after being convicted in a Swedish court for facilitating copyright infringement. They run the world’s most notorious BitTorrent search engine. Their fines and imprisonment are pending appeal.

On Monday, The Pirate Bay announced that 180,000 people have signed up for the service. Invitations to the first 3,000 who signed up in April went out Monday.

“There’s been some small issues but it’s being resolved right now,” the Bay announced Monday on its blog. “Then we’ll invite more people in… We’re hoping that all will have their invite within a month’s period.”

TorrentFreak notes that the IPREDATOR service, announced in April, likely would be more secure than rank-and-file virtual private networks, which encrypt a user’s traffic stream, making it theoretcially invulnerable to interception by a local ISP, or intermediate carriers.

“The weak link in any VPN/anonymity service is always their willingness (or otherwise) to hand over your customer data when pressured under the law. However, with IPREDATOR this should not be an issue since the service is promising to keep no logs of user activity whatsoever,” TorrentFreak said.

Pirate Bay administrators Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde were found guilty in April, along with Carl Lundström, who was accused of funding the five-year-old operation.

In addition to jail time, the defendants were ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a handful of entertainment companies, including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros, EMI and Columbia Pictures, for the infringement of 33 specific movie and music properties tracked by industry investigators.

The April verdicts are on appeal amid allegations the judge who presided over the case was biased because he was a member of pro-copyright groups.

I wish them all the luck. I wonder what kind of hardware they have backing it all up and what kinds of speed people will be seeing. Should be interesting.

A win for anti-intellectual property ideas: Sweden’s Pirate Party captures Euro seat

Posted on June 8th, 2009 by bile
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http://af.reuters.com/…

Sweden’s Pirate Party, striking a chord with voters who want more free content on the Internet, won a seat in the European Parliament, early results showed on Sunday.

The Pirate Party captured 7.1 percent of votes in Sweden in the Europe-wide ballot, enough to give it a single seat. The party wants to deregulate copyright, abolish the patent system and reduce surveillance on the Internet.

“This is fantastic!” Christian Engstrom, the party’s top candidate, told Reuters. “This shows that there are a lot of people who think that personal integrity is important and that it matters that we deal with the Internet and the new information society in the right way.”

Previously an obscure group of single-issue activists, the party enjoyed a jump in popularity after the conviction in April of four men behind The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s biggest free file-sharing website.

The case cast a spotlight on the issue of internet file-sharing, a technique used to download movies, music and other content. The defendants have called for a retrial.

Despite the similar names, the party and the website are not linked. The party was founded in 2006 and contested a Swedish general election that year, but received less than one percent of the vote.

Engstrom credited the party’s appeal to young voters for its success. “We are very strong among those under 30. They are the ones who understand the new world the best. And they have now signalled they don’t like how the big parties deal with these issues.”

The Pirate Party will take up one of Sweden’s 18 seats in the 785-seat parliament. “We will use all of our strength to defend personal integrity and our civil rights,” Engstrom said.

Seven’ish percent of the vote isn’t bad… and while 1/785 vote in the EU parliament isn’t much… it’s better then nothing.

A blow to transitioning away from violent monopolies

Posted on April 17th, 2009 by bile
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http://arstechnica.com/…

The Pirate Bay “spectrial” has ended in a guilty verdict, prison sentences for the defendants, and a shared 30 million kronor ($3.5 million) fine. According to the Swedish district court, the operators of the site were guilty of assisting copyright infringement even though The Pirate Bay hosted none of the files in question and even though other search engines like Google also provide direct access to illegal .torrent files.

These two points formed the basis of The Pirate Bay’s defense, but the court found them ultimately unpersuasive in its 107 page verdict. “By providing a site with, as the district court found, sophisticated search functions, easy upload and storage, and a website linked to the tracker,” the defendants were guilty of assistant copyright infringement, the court said.

In an Internet press conference this morning, defendant Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi compared the whole trial to (of all things) The Karate Kid, a movie in which the good guy is roughed up by bullies, goes through a long training process, learns to “wax on, wax off,” encounters his bully again in the final round of a karate tournament, and kicks him in the face with his “crane technique.” Kolmisoppi sees parallels. In the end, he insists, “we’ll kick their ass.”

Read More…

Private’ish schooling in Sweden gaining in popularity

Posted on July 29th, 2008 by bile
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http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-07-24-swedenschools_N.htm

Schools run by private enterprise? Free iPods and laptop computers to attract students?

It may sound out of place in Sweden, that paragon of taxpayer-funded cradle-to-grave welfare. But a sweeping reform of the school system has survived the critics and 16 years later is spreading and attracting interest abroad.

“I think most people, parents and children, appreciate the choice,” said Bertil Ostberg, from the Ministry of Education. “You can decide what school you want to attend and that appeals to people.”

Since the change was introduced in 1992 by a center-right government that briefly replaced the long-governing Social Democrats, the numbers have shot up. In 1992, 1.7% of high schoolers and 1% of elementary schoolchildren were privately educated. Now the figures are 17% and 9%.

Before the reform, most families depended on state-run schools following a uniform national curriculum. Now they can turn to the “friskolor,” or “independent schools,” which choose their own teaching methods and staff, and manage their own buildings.

They remain completely government-financed and are not allowed to charge tuition fees. The difference is that their government funding goes to private companies which then try to run the schools more cost-effectively and keep whatever taxpayer money they save.

Bure Equity, listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, is the largest private school operator in Sweden and is expanding rapidly. In the first quarter of this year, net profit for its education portfolio rose 33% to about $3 million.

Such profit-making troubles Swedes who don’t think taxpayers should be enriching corporations.

The Social Democrats strongly opposed the change as anti-egalitarian, but when they were re-elected to power in 1994, they found it was so popular that they left it in place, though they imposed a lid on fees.

People like freedom and choice?! Can’t let that stay. Gotta make everyone the same. A good army of serfs to support the oligarchy.

This system of theirs has been talked about for years by the likes of John Stossel but it’s nice to see more agencies pick it up. While it seems to be little more then corporatism it sounds like it creates more competition and therefore a more efficient education system.

As for their last component of the article where they try to show that private schools can’t do everything… it’s a pretty pathetic example. Some kid wants to be a musician. A field which pays little generally because of the large pool of laborers and relative ease of entering. Apparently he can’t find a private school that provides the education so he’s going to attend a public school. So, because he doesn’t want to really take the risk and attend a private school he’s relying on the violence of the state to do what he ‘wants’ to do instead of non-violently doing what he ‘needs’ to do to survive. Great, I hope this kid ends up as a street mime in Paris.

Fed looks to socialists for more ideas to centralize the US economy

Posted on April 1st, 2008 by bile
Categories and Tags: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 2 Comments »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…

The US Federal Reserve is examining the Nordic bank nationalisations of the 1990s as a possible interim solution to the US financial crisis.

The Fed has been criticised for its rescue of Bear Stearns, which critics say has degenerated into a taxpayer gift to rich bankers.

A senior official at one of the Scandinavian central banks told The Daily Telegraph that Fed strategists had stepped up contacts to learn how Norway, Sweden and Finland managed their traumatic crisis from 1991 to 1993, which brought the region’s economy to its knees.

It is understood that Fed vice-chairman Don Kohn remains very concerned by the depth of the US crisis and is eyeing the Nordic approach for contingency options.

Scandinavia’s bank rescue proved successful and is now a model for central bankers, unlike Japan’s drawn-out response, where ailing banks were propped up in a half-public limbo for years.

I’m not able to find the clip he used but Gardner Goldsmith on his radio show yesterday but not only did the administration admit it and the Fed is looking into how the Nordic banking nationalization went it admitted to planning to open the floodgates on the money supply as long ago as last spring.

Ron Paul was on the Glenn Beck show tonight (see below) and Beck was in a daze of sorts. If you noticed, this morning some fairly bad news came out about UBS and some other banks. An additional $19b writedown for UBS and their director stepped down. Auto sales dropped. Oil was at new highs. Metals are all down. Etc. And yet the Dow was up almost 400 points. 3.19%. Nasdaq and the S&P 500 even more. And that’s after this news about the Nordic nationalization. Beck says he was never a conspiracy theorist, thought the John Birch Society people were crazy, but as he reads about the Fed, about the 1907 crash, he’s getting very uncomfortable with what finds in the past and the continuation of it in the present. Beck is hardly a real libertarian or gold bug but it’s really great to see someone on in the MSM helping get this info out there.