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Piracy and Free Software

Oct 13, 2010, 21:34 (9 Talkback[s])

"Over the last few years, many advocates of access to information have gathered and organized under the banner of piracy. Should FLOSS and free culture advocates embrace advocates of piracy as comrades in arms or condemn them? Must we choose between being either with the pirates or against them? I believe that, unintuitively, if we take a strong principled position in favor of information freedom and distinguish between principles and tactics, a more nuanced "middle ground" response to piracy is possible. On free culture and free software's terms, we can suggest that piracy is not ethically wrong, but that it is an shortsighted and unwise way to try to promote sharing that we should not support.

"Piracy and Free Software

"This essay is a summary of my presentation at the workshop Inlaws and Outlaws, held on August 19-20, 2010 in Split, Croatia. The workshop brought together advocates of piracy with participants in the free culture and free software movements. It was first posted on my blog and there are comments and conversation there.

"In Why Software Should Not Have Owners, Richard Stallman explains that, if a friend asks you for a piece of software and the license of the software bars you from sharing, you will have to choose between being a bad friend or violating the license of the software. Stallman suggests that users will have to choose between the lesser of two evils and will choose to violate the license. He emphasizes that it's unfair to ask a user to make such a choice."

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