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DATE 2002-09-01


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DATE 2002-09-03
FROM Ruben I Safir
SUBJECT Subject: [hangout] Fwd: Review copy of speech... []
From Tue Sep 3 22:52:57 2002
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From: Ruben I Safir
Subject: [hangout] Fwd: Review copy of speech... []
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On 2002.09.03 20:27 David Sugar wrote:
This is an advanced review copy of the speech I am planning to give on

"Software Literacy and the right to study"

As I come here to speak before you today about software freedom, I am not
speaking about a purely abstract idea or idealism of how we think the
world should work. Software freedom is as much about very real world
economic freedom as it is about social rights that all humans should be
free to exercise.

Certainly all modern societies recognize the need to encourage people to
publish new ideas. In that science itself is advanced through incremental
improvement on the past, the greatest benefit to society occurs when the
most people are able to actively participate in it. Certainly, society as
a whole generally benefits when new ideas and improvements to old ideas
are published and disseminated and everyone is free to use these new
ideas and can themselves contribute to further improve upon them.

To encourage people to participate in publishing their ideas, many
societies offer temporary restrictions on the publics rights to enable
authors and inventors to derive some special economic benefit through
means such as copyright. These special considerations are justified so
long as they serve the overall need of society, and usually on a very
limited basis. These considerations are offered in many countries not as
an absolute right, and certainly not as a property right, but as a special
consideration for the benefit of society as a whole. Copyright is talked
about in this manner in my American constitution, in article I. In your
national constitution, one can find similar concepts, even if the wording
and some of the emphasis is different, as part of article 47.

To balance the privilege of copyright, in my country we have a concept of
"fair use". "Fair use", as we understand it in America, is derived from
the 1st and 4th amendments of our constitution, as this part deals with
real rights that are granted to real individuals. These real rights are
different and absolute, rather than the privilege of copyright. In the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's constitution, many of the things we
call "fair use" as derived from other rights are more directly spelled out
in article 47.

Free Software is also founded on these basic ideas that all societies
recognize. When we are talking about Free Software, we are not talking
about software that is free in cost but in the freedoms that are offered
and which society should expect. To make these freedoms easier to
understand the free software foundation has defined four basic software

The freedom to run the program, for any purpose, what the FSF
calls freedom zero, as no other form of software freedom is
possible if one cannot freely run programs.

The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your

The freedom to redistribute copies of software so you can help

The freedom to improve software, and release your improvements
to the public, so that society as a whole benefits.

Each of these freedoms is essential. However, today I am going to speak
mostly about what we call the first software freedom. When we speak about
this freedom, to study and learn and adapt software, we are also talking
about the freedom that people have to exercise and use the ideas and
knowledge that they may posses or gain. Whether we spell this basic freedom
out in our respective laws using the same or different language, this basic
idea that people can share and use knowledge is fundamental to all societies.

When we educate our children, we do not give them licenses to use math or
literacy. When we teach our children to read and write, about culture and
literacy, which often is done by studying how others have done this in the
past, we do not say that because this knowledge was given by others that
others now have some imaginary right to control or benefit from anything
that person may write or publish in his lifetime thereafter. As all
societies I think would agree, education is a very fundamental and natural

Similarly, if one is to write software, one would do so by studying
software written by others. This is no different than other professions.
If one wants to be an auto mechanic, for example, one might do so by
studying and learning or taking apart or putting together cars. When One
learns about cars, the car companies who made those cars that the mechanic
learned from do not try to claim some form of ownership over the ideas or
skills of the mechanic. In this sense, software is no different than any
other profession, and if in fact, software were treated much the same,
perhaps there might not be need for me to be here before you today.

The reason we speak of software freedom is that these very basic freedoms
that we understand and hold dear in our lives are under threat and already
have been eliminated in many areas of the software profession that exists
today. Very often we find these basic freedoms are eliminated by those
that sell propriety software and do so under terms and restrictions that
are neither part of those natural rights we all understand must exist as
societies, and as a result also that handicap and prevent others from
obtaining the same economic opportunities that those very same proprietary
vendors often originally enjoyed.

Consider the case of our auto mechanic. Let us say he is very good and
becomes the chief mechanic for Yugo motors. If we applied the same logic
that proprietary vendors do in software to this situation, then what might
happen is that say Volkswagen or Honda might one day visit the Yugo
director. These visitors would explain that the mechanic obviously is
knowledgeable about cars, and this knowledge can only be obtained by
learning from other cars. Since all cars would come with a EULA that
specifically prohibits one from studying cars or creating new cars,
clearly Yugo must immediately cease making cars, and pay for past damages
for having done so. The only way Yugo would be able to manufacture a car
is perhaps by hiring people that know absolutely nothing about cars and
then making sure they do not accidentally learn about how cars work or
accidentally come up with common or even obvious ideas that are already
covered by patents.

This is not to say that proprietary knowledge as such is in itself bad.
Many companies may have ideas for how to do things that they develop and
use internally. In keeping these ideas internal they may gain competitive
advantage. We typically call these things trade secrets, and trade
secrets, as such, offer no overt threat to freedom.

Similarly, there is a very broad range of proprietary software development
that does not concern us at all. Many companies develop and modify
software internally for specific purposes. This software is not meant to
be distributed, and while it may be an unfortunate loss to the public as a
whole that this software will never be seen elsewhere, this is certainly a
right any organization should enjoy.

Commercial software, as such, also poses no issues from the point of view
of software freedom. Certainly people and groups have a right to buy and
sell software as they do for any other commodity. Software freedom is not
about establishing lower costs for software.

The real issue we face comes from the commercial distribution of
proprietary software and the social and economic damage this does. This
damage occurs because of distributing something to others while trying to
retain control as if it were an internal and private proprietary product.
These same controls, when exerted externally, interfere in the very
ability for others to use these products as they see fit and from the
natural rights of others to study and learn.

If I run a company that has a car, I can certainly say who in my own
company can use the car and when. I can also say who may ride in the car
and I have a right to exercise proprietary control over it. If I sell you
a car, and try to exercise this same proprietary control, I am interfering
in your ability to use your own property or knowledge. Imagine if I told
you that you would only be permitted to let the people I choose drive with
you in your car, that you would only be permitted to drive it on the
streets I permit, on the days I choose, etc. Imagine if you were further
told that you are not entitled to modify your car or to resell it to

Companies that purchase and use proprietary software have to deal with
many similar restrictions on the software they purchase and use today.
They may be restricted from who or how many people can use a given
software. They may be restricted from modifying software, or, worst yet,
restricted from obtaining any commercial opportunities by modifying their

When proprietary software companies speak of these practices, they like to
speak of "Intellectual Property". As noted earlier, there are no modern
societies that recognize ideas as physical property. However, besides
being a very false idea, we find a great irony put forward by these same
firms. On the one hand, these companies that distribute proprietary
software often would like have knowledge legally treated as if it were
physical property, often at the same time wish to deny to those they sell
to the same property rights they themselves would try to claim.

We often hear proprietary commercial software firms speak of the right to
"innovate". Similarly, by offering proprietary software licenses that
wish to impose how one can use software they wish to protect this
privilege to themselves exclusively while simultaneously denying the
benefit and right of innovation to all others.

Those of us who are free software professionals understand that software,
like other sciences, is founded upon the ideas of those before us and
progresses through the often incremental contributions of others.
Sometimes in software, like in science, a real innovation does occur, and
by having anyone freely able to learn and study software, the largest
chance of such innovation occurring becomes possible. While proprietary
software vendors will only permit innovation to occur at their own
facilities, such innovation can happen anywhere at anytime. It can happen
right now, in this very room. Someone here right now might get an
innovative idea...

Governments and commercial enterprises are increasingly becoming aware of
the very real benefits of free software today. Governments, in
particular, have an implicit obligation to obtain the most value for the
publics money that they spend. Value as such is not necessarily measured
in currency alone. Increasingly, governments are interested in free
software for the value in terms of permitting their own citizens economic
opportunities that are denied them by purchasing and using proprietary
commercial software. Similarly, companies are increasingly finding that
the cost of proprietary software is not just in the ever increasing costs
of software licenses alone, but in the cost to their own freedom to use
and profit from the software that they purchase.

In providing opportunities for (?Former?) Macedonians to directly participate
in the
development and worldwide commercial software market locally, free
software offers incentives for forming a local software industry that can
compete on an equal basis with that of any other advanced country in the
world. Software does not require expensive plants or high capital
investment to develop. Software primarily requires educated people who
are free to use their skills and natural talents. Certainly, the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as any other country, can and does produce
people with such talents and skills. Free software means these people can
practice these skills for their own benefit and the benefit of your
society as a whole without having to look for work in or migrate to
foreign lands.

As we see free software being adopted and validated as the legitimate
means to distribute software by more governments every week, most recently
by Venezuela, we find some of these vendors of proprietary software trying
to use their influence to alter national laws and subvert constitutional
rights. Why do these vendors so fear free software? The only logical
conclusion that one can come to is that they fear you. They fear that
even in this country, and lets be honest, not the mightiest of nations;
they fear that even here, if people exercise their freedoms fully, they
can challenge even the most powerful proprietary vendors on equal terms in
an open market anywhere in the world.

Before I open the floor to some questions, and, if time permits, speak
about the specific free software project I maintain, GNU Bayonne, which is
the telecommunications server of the GNU project, I would like to comment
on remarks I have heard about there being a problem with "piracy" in this
country. I am sure someone will ask about this, and to save the time of
responding to this question later, I will do so now.

Piracy, as one may recall, is the abduction and murder of people on the
high seas. As far as I recall, this country enjoys no coastline. I
suppose there could be river pirates. While I am not aware of any piracy
problem in this country, I must assume most people are referring
incorrectly to the practice of copying and using copy prohibited or if you
will commercial proprietary software. Certainly, as far as I am aware, no
lives have been lost due to copying of proprietary software.

While proprietary vendors like to claim all forms of copying of software
that they provide is illegal, this is in fact not at all true. While
copyright does offer some specific and temporary prohibitions, these
limited privileges are balanced and restrained by fair use which involves
real and actual rights that real individuals enjoy. Fair use guarantees
the right to study and learn, to use excerpts of other works, and most
importantly, to copy works and, at least in a limited form, continue to
share them with others.

To get around these very real and guaranteed rights that these companies find
so inconvenient, proprietary software vendors resort to the use of commercial
contract law. Now, one can sign a contract that surrenders one's basic
rights if one chooses to do so. One can create and even sign a contract to
sell oneself into slavery. These kinds of contracts, when they do exist, can
be upheld only if they are deemed by courts as being a fair contract made by
two consenting parties of equal stature. When such contracts are forced by a
party with unequal or unfair advantage over another party, these are things
we call agreements of adhesion, and are generally not considered valid. Most
proprietary software contracts, especially those of companies wielding
monopoly power where users feel they have no choice, are certainly
contracts of adhesion.

If people choose to surrender their natural rights in contracts, whether
we talk about software, or, another favorite idea, the so called "non
disclosure agreement", this does not mean these rights go away for others,
just as if people choose not to vote, this not mean they loose this right.
The real damage of proprietary software contracts and other similar
agreements, however, is that the rights one surrenders are not his or her
own rights, but the existing rights of everyone else to use the software
and knowledge he or she has obtained. Certainly I had not been asked to
surrender my rights when this is done, nor has anyone else been consulted.
As freedom loving individuals, please also consider the freedoms and rights
of others, and avoid such contracts and products wherever they appear.

Thank you for your time, patience, and hospitality. I will now take


Brooklyn Linux Solutions
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New Yorker Free Software Users Scene
Fair Use -
because it's either fair use or useless....

  1. 2002-09-08 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Asha Move Tomorrow
  2. 2002-09-08 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Radio Show
  3. 2002-09-08 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout]
  4. 2002-09-08 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Re: Article for you...
  5. 2002-09-08 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Phikips - ther Anti_DRM Company
  6. 2002-09-08 Jay Sulzberger <> Subject: [hangout] Attributed Ellis Island and Copyright Fraud Story by Yale Kohen
  7. 2002-09-08 Jay Sulzberger <> Subject: [hangout] ALT-Q Ellis Island (fwd)
  8. 2002-09-08 Joe Villari <> Subject: [hangout] ydl, gimp and the solution
  9. 2002-09-06 From: "Joseph A. Maffia" <> Subject: [hangout] asha office
  10. 2002-09-06 From: "Ruben Safir" <> Re: [hangout] asha office
  11. 2002-09-06 From: "Ruben Safir" <> Re: [hangout] Dev null route
  12. 2002-09-05 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Unix 2 Class Tonight
  13. 2002-09-04 Ray Connolly <> Subject: [hangout] Come One, Come All: An Open Invitation
  14. 2002-09-04 Ray Connolly <> Subject: [hangout] Venezuela & Software Libre
  15. 2002-09-04 Ray Connolly <> RE: [hangout] No more Journal
  16. 2002-09-04 Michael Richardson <> RE: [hangout] No more Journal
  17. 2002-09-04 Ruben I Safir <> Re: [hangout] No more Journal
  18. 2002-09-04 Michael Richardson <> Subject: [hangout] No more Journal
  19. 2002-09-03 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Fwd: Review copy of speech... []
  20. 2002-09-03 Joe Villari <> Re: [hangout] YDL and Gimp
  21. 2002-09-03 Ron Guerin <> Subject: [hangout] [Fwd: Cornell Universiot and the DMCA]
  22. 2002-09-03 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Perl 2 Canceled Tonight
  23. 2002-09-03 From: "Ruben Safir" <> Re: [hangout] revised mets tickets
  24. 2002-09-03 marco <> Subject: [hangout] Open Office Training Tonight
  25. 2002-09-03 marco <> Re: [hangout] Re: ASHA office (fwd)
  26. 2002-09-03 marco <> Re: [hangout] YDL and Gimp
  27. 2002-09-03 marco <> Re: [hangout] YDL and Gimp
  28. 2002-09-03 David Sugar <> Subject: [hangout] This week I will be in Macedonia...
  29. 2002-09-03 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] NYC - Symbol of Strength?
  30. 2002-09-02 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] [ current speech]
  31. 2002-09-02 Joe Villari <> Subject: [hangout] YDL and Gimp
  32. 2002-09-02 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] One more things
  33. 2002-09-02 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Septmebr Classes Booklet - Please Distribute
  34. 2002-09-01 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Re: [dclug] Department of Commerce Report
  35. 2002-09-01 Jay Sulzberger <> Re: [hangout] Radio Show on Sunday..
  36. 2002-09-01 Billy <> Re: [hangout] Log Analysist
  37. 2002-09-01 Billy <> Subject: [hangout] Re: membership Web Space
  38. 2002-09-01 Billy <> Re: [hangout] Log Analysist
  39. 2002-09-01 Billy <> Re: [hangout] Log Analysist
  40. 2002-09-01 Ruben Safir <> Re: [hangout] Fair use website request
  41. 2002-09-01 From: "Ruben Safir" <> Re: [hangout] Log Analysist
  42. 2002-09-01 Matthew Hirsch <> Subject: [hangout] Fair use website request
  43. 2002-09-01 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Log Analysist
  44. 2002-09-01 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Re: ASHA office (fwd)
  45. 2002-09-12 From: "Phil Glaser" <> Subject: [hangout] Revised LaGuardia Demo program, version 0912-b
  46. 2002-09-12 marco <> Re: [hangout] The latest agenda for LaGuardia demo
  47. 2002-09-12 From: "Phil Glaser" <> Subject: [hangout] The latest agenda for LaGuardia demo
  48. 2002-09-11 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] A Press Agent Recommendation
  49. 2002-09-11 From: "Kevin Milani" <> RE: [hangout] Mac OS X Server versus Linux Server
  50. 2002-09-11 From: "Dimitar Georgievski" <> Subject: [hangout] LaGuardia update
  51. 2002-09-11 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout]
  52. 2002-09-10 From: "Joseph A. Maffia" <> Subject: [hangout] mission statement
  53. 2002-09-10 Joe Villari <> Re: [hangout] Mac OS X Server versus Linux Server
  54. 2002-09-10 Ray Connolly <> Subject: [hangout] Desktop: GNU/Linux outpaces Mac OSX
  55. 2002-09-10 Kevin Milani <> Subject: [hangout] Mac OS X Server versus Linux Server
  56. 2002-09-24 From: "Dimitar Georgievski" <> RE: [hangout] CUNY Demo
  57. 2002-09-24 Michael Richardson <> RE: [hangout] CUNY Demo
  58. 2002-09-24 From: "Kevin Milani" <> Subject: [hangout] Consulting Business Initiative
  59. 2002-09-23 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] DMCA Enforcers
  60. 2002-09-23 From: "Inker, Evan" <> Subject: [hangout] OpenSSL Gets a Gift from SUN (Or maybe not?) - READ THE SUN AGREE
  61. 2002-09-23 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Ari Jort Presenting tonight
  62. 2002-09-23 Ruben I Safir <> Re: [hangout] Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going
  63. 2002-09-23 Michael Richardson <> Subject: [hangout] what information to take
  64. 2002-09-22 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] gimp 1.3
  65. 2002-09-22 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Re: Fw: perl scripts
  66. 2002-09-22 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] New Business Initiatives
  67. 2002-09-22 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] CUNY Demo
  68. 2002-09-21 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Here is a howto meet women while using GNU/Linux
  69. 2002-09-21 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Journal Article - One Submittions
  70. 2002-09-20 Jonathan Bober <> Re: [hangout] Now, it's getting scary, and FAST
  71. 2002-09-20 Ray Connolly <> Subject: [hangout] Now, it's getting scary, and FAST
  72. 2002-09-20 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] C program
  73. 2002-09-19 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Re: [nylug-talk] flexible virtual hosting?
  74. 2002-09-18 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] xmlns I dont see the point
  75. 2002-09-17 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] September Journal
  76. 2002-09-17 Ruben Safir <> Subject: [hangout] New Linux 1 and Perl 1 Classes, class on the Gimp
  77. 2002-09-24 From: "Phil Glaser" <> RE: [hangout] Consulting Business Initiative
  78. 2002-09-24 Ruben Safir <> Re: [hangout] Consulting Business Initiative
  79. 2002-09-24 Ruben Safir <> Re: [hangout] CUNY Demo
  80. 2002-09-24 Ruben I Safir <> Re: [hangout] Consulting Business Initiative
  81. 2002-09-25 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Fwd: Re: Hebrew Translation Effort []
  82. 2002-09-25 Kevin Milani <> Re: [hangout] Consulting Business Initiative
  83. 2002-09-25 From: "Phil Glaser" <> Subject: [hangout] Need a volunteer to do a session on reliability, support, and security
  84. 2002-09-25 Jay Sulzberger <> Subject: [wwwac] Re: [hangout] Re: berman bill (fwd)
  85. 2002-09-25 From: "Ruben Safir" <> Re: [hangout] Need a volunteer to do a session on reliability, support, and security
  86. 2002-09-26 marco <> Subject: [hangout] Board Meeting: My wife's first solo show
  87. 2002-09-25 Ruben I Safir <> Re: [hangout] marketing initiative
  88. 2002-09-27 Ruben I Safir <> Subject: [hangout] Linux on the Desktop in Business
  89. 2002-09-09 From: "Joseph A. Maffia" <> Subject: [hangout] Fwd: asha office?
  90. 2002-09-09 From: "Joseph A. Maffia" <> Subject: [hangout] Asha office

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