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Re: IBM's interpretation of the GNU GPL contract

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: IBM's interpretation of the GNU GPL contract
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2006 11:22:58 +0100

rjack wrote:
> A GPL source code contributor can sue only on a copyright infringement

I'd actually *pay* a pretty penny to see Eben litigating the GPL on a 
copyright infringement theory (contract theory aside for a moment). That 
crazy moron is on record: (thanks a bunch for the transcript, GNUtian 

Chair: [snip: introductions of other panelists] ...and Eben Moglen from
Colombia law school.

Eben Moglen: Yeh, I also make lawyers, I teach something called "Law and
The Information Society", I'm not too keen on "cyberspace". I'm the
general counsel of the Free Software Foundation, and I'm trying to
report on the revolution which is destroying intellectual property. Of
which I am entirely in favour.

15 minutes in:

Let's look at where that gets us, so we can stop this nonsense about the
DMCA as a copyright law. We used to have a copyright law, and under the
copyright law it was copyright infringement to photocopy books and hand
copies out to your friends. You never read a case, because there never
was a case, in which under the copyright law, somebody was charged with
a federal legal offence of any kind for writing a book about how
photocopiers work or for distributing blue prints of photocopiers or for
manufacturing and selling photocopiers. When you see a legal regime that
is engaged in trying to charge people for doing those things, you can be
pretty sure it's not the copyright law, it's something else. The fact
that they put the word copyright in the title doesn't make it a
copyright law folks. It's actually a technology control law designed to
build a leak proof pipe from any production studio that the five
companies that make music and the eight companies that make movies care
to make. A leak proof pipe that goes from there to you eyeball or
eardrum, and anything that provides a droplet worth of leak in that pipe
is now some sort of terrible legal controversy that is threatening to
bring civilisation to an end. It's total bullshit.

31 minutes in:

This would make more difference, if it made any difference at all, but
it doesn't make any difference at all, because you are listening to a
conversation among dead businesses. About how under certain imaginary
conditions - if it only takes long enough for us to recognise that they
are dead, they might come back to life. That's not the situation. We now
live in a society, where the most important goods have zero marginal
cost. Everybody can have a copy of them at no cost. And where everybody
on the planet is either actually or potentially connected to everybody
else without intermediary. Under those circumstances, some traditional
political economy principals don't hold, anymore AND what they are
talking about is an economy based on property that doesn't make sense in
a world of universal interconnection and zero marginal cost goods. In
that world, some kinds of goods like computer programs are better
produced by anarchism where nobody owns anything. You cannot prove as I
have proved with respect to software, you cannot prove that anarchist
music is better music than proprietary music because there's no
objective scale of better or worseness for music. What you can prove
about music and other such cultural goods with zero marginal cost is
that anarchist distribution, that is distribution by people who don't
own any right at all in what they are distributing works better than any
other solution. So, because they are capitalists, and believe in
competition, we can make a prediction, for them. They will be competed
out of existence by anarchism which works better - For the purposes of
the future of music, and the other digital arts - this means that the
sellers who own stuff are going to cease to exist. They will slow that
down for a while, and they will earn a few more billions of dollars out
of our pockets, but in the end, and I don't mean a long end, I mean a
quarter of a century, they're going to be gone. The question that is
concerning many of you which is how you are going to get paid, is a
really interesting and important question, which nothing being said up
here right now is. But you can't answer it because you don't know what
the world you are going to be living in is going to be like.

Imagine a conversation at the time of the enactment of the copyright act
in 1704 that we were just hearing about before. Some guys are sitting
around in a new thing called a coffee shop, and smoking a thing called
tobacco which is still largely regarded among English speaking people as
a thing you use in whore houses - they are talking about how people are
going to get paid for books at the end of the 20th century. My guess is
that nothing that they say anticipates Stephen King correctly, in any
one of his numerous worthless guises. My guess is that it has not
occurred to them that global publishers are going to control a thing
called the book trade that they don't understand at all, and they
certainly have no idea that books are going to be written and thrown
away on a deal where retailers get to return all unsold books 'cause the
book trade is really about selling something called "the movie rights".
- You don't know what the world you're living in is going to be like but
you can guess some things about it: there will be no music companies in

Now if you leave them alone to buy more congressmen, in this very
corrupt time of ours, they will survive for a little while longer but
all of this talk is about the technicalities of the adjustment of the
terms of their demise. When we want to start talking about something
that matters, we would do better to begin from some basic social
propositions. Everybody is connected to everybody else, all data that
can be shared will be shared: get used to it.


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