So I thought I would drop an extra post or two this week reflecting on conference. For all our non-conferencing readers I apologise.
Actually yesterday’s keynote from Richard Stallman was quite thought provoking, so I needed to get some of what I have been discussing on to the small screen.
Richard was big on freedom, and being free to do with things what you want. He talked a bit about the problems with copyright, and reducing it. It seems his mantra was “sharing is good” while “Proprietary software is evil”. Like many what I call “pure ideologues” I feel his ideas are good and worthy but when they intersect with reality, and humanity, they fall over.
So what were my reactions:
Copyright: Rather than reducing it to 10 years (or about) as he proposed, I think copyright should last for the lifetime of the creator, or until they relinquish it.
Freedom: This is the part that had me thinking the most. RS had 4 freedoms in software he believed in: freedom to do with it what you want; freedom to see the code; freedom to alter the code and freedom to share.
He was very big on freedom for the user, but I felt that to give that freedom to the user, he wanted to take the freedom to control your own work from the creator. But then what is freedom? He was talking as if these freedoms were some inviolable right. I have become more and more convinced that there are no such things as rights or freedoms, that are in some intangible way, inherent in humanity. Rights and freedoms are an expression of force as defined by the majority of those making up society, or by the minority with the power to express that force . As such they are always vulnerable to those willing to acquire power and express it, either by brute force, monetary force, or educational force.