that old GNU/Linux argument
Gordon Messmer
yinyang at eburg.com
Mon Jul 28 04:06:04 UTC 2008
Antonio Olivares wrote:
> Why can't it be given as a gift, you are free to do whatever you want
> with the cow. If you decide to let the cow eat hay and have calves, the
> calves that you have can be shared with thy neighbor. This is what the
> GPL enforces. The neighbor needs milk, he can milk your cow. Remember
> the cow is licensed under the GPL.
It's a huge mistake to create analogies between information and property.
If the cow were software, you and I could both milk it. It would never
run out. That's the way information works: you copy it and the original
is left intact.
Property doesn't work like that. If you milk the cow, then the cow will
need time to make more milk. I can't go and milk the cow immediately
after you.
Analogies comparing property and information are misleading because of
the fundamental difference between the two. Can we please not continue
to compare software and property?
> I would see real life examples like a teacher and a student. A
> teacher teaches a student many wonderful things say in mathematics.
> That student learns and goes to higher and higher levels eventually
> earning a Ph.D. The teacher is just a high school teacher, but was
> the teacher of the student. The student comes up with a very famous
> equation or proves a Theorem that has never been proven before. If
> the student uses the GPL, he has to credit all of his teachers
> including the one that taught him in high school. The student proved
> the Theorem himself and he does acknowledge all of the teachers that
> he had. All of the teachers can claim that they wrote the Theorem
> also because they are protected under the GNU/GPL umbrella :) Is that
> any justice to the student, who worked all the way up and did his/her
> homework?
The GPL isn't about credit, it's about distribution and rights. Since
you're talking about knowledge here, it's a somewhat better analogy than
the cow. :)
If the teacher had given the student his knowledge under terms similar
to the GPL, then that would not allow the teacher to claim that he wrote
the student's theorem. It wouldn't even ensure that the teacher could
later use the student's theorem to teach others (that'd be more like the
AGPL). What it would ensure is that however the student applied the
theorem, he would have to describe the theorem itself and all of the
mathematical underpinnings that support it to the people to whom he
distributes his work. He can charge money for his services if he
chooses, but he can not hide the manner in which his work functions, and
he can not forbid anyone from discussing his theorem once they've
learned of it.
So, given that, do you think it's a good thing to forbid people from
discussing the theorem that the student discovered? If so, why?
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