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Re: Freedom. . . NOT

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Freedom. . . NOT
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 18:47:41 +0200

Hyman Rosen wrote:
> Alexander Terekhov wrote:
> > Hyman Rosen wrote:
> > [... The FSF doesn't care about programmers ... ]
> > Right.
> >
> > (Why Not Use the GPL?)
> A programmer complaining that the FSF doesn't care about
> programmers. Ho hum. As a programmer myself, I find that
> the biggest hindrance in my work is lack of transparency
> when I have to use third-party libraries and I can't see
> what it is they're doing because I don't have their source.

Ah. (Same link as above.)

Generally, the notions of open-source and non-proprietary software are
conflated — as opposed to closed, proprietary software. However, there
is no particular reason to do so. Instead, software can be categorized
using two axes: an open-closed axis and a free-proprietary one.[2] The
benefits accruing to open-source software are largely connected to the
open-closed axis. It is the making source code available that allows the
peer-review and correction feedback loop to take off. 

Making software proprietary does stem the flow of contributions, of
course; nobody particularly wants to contribute to someone else’s profit
at their own cost. To offset this effect, open, proprietary software can
easily provide a renumeration model, offering payment or royalties for

[... VAS ...]

The characteristics of VAS tends to act as a pressure against free
development. The end result consists of large programs that no
programmer is particularly interested in, whatever the importance is to
the enduser. 7 (Notable exceptions are areas with existing bodies of
amateur enthusiasts: amateur radio, astronomy, etc.) To a large extent,
the patronage model breaks down, as well; the small size of the user
base and the large size of the projects tends to channel patronage
towards other areas. And yet VAS needs to exist, if computers are to be
anything other than hobbyist toys.

None of the above suggests that VAS software needs to be closed-source.
The advantages of opensource VAS are still those of any other
open-source software. The problem with opening proprietary VAS is simply
that the producers of that software want to protect their investment.
Copyright can protect the source code easily enough. Unfortunately, any
piece of VAS represents a considerable amount of investment in analysis,
design and algorithmics; no VAS vendor will willingly sacrifice that

Enter, to the sound of ominous music, THE PATENT. A patent allows the
inventor of an idea (algorithm or nifty piece of design, in software
terms) the exclusive right to the idea for a limited term, in exchange
for the publication of the idea. Once the term expires, the idea passes
into the public domain. If this description sounds familiar, it’s not
surprising; it’s a form of open-source. The arguments for patents are
similar to open-source arguments, as well: open publication ensures that
new ideas do not get lost, that duplicated effort is avoided and that
others can examine and learn from the idea.


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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