Technocrat.net: Bootlegging of Music With Napster Hurts Free Software

“When Free Software authors wanted an operating system that
they could modify and share without the usual hassles of
proprietary software, they wrote a new system from scratch.

Many of the same programmers who wrote the free GNU/Linux system
had access to the source code of proprietary operating systems like
the old ATT Unix, and Sun Microsystems SunOS. They did not bootleg
those systems and form a widespread underground of people hacking
on a stolen OS. They respected other people’s property rights,
even when they might not have supported them.
Free Software
authors worked a peaceful revolution, within the law.”

“That’s not what we’re seeing now with Napster, and the
widespread bootlegging of music by Napster users justifies, in many
people’s eyes, the way we’re being prosecuted over our free
software DVD players. There are lots of casual music thieves who
are taking advantage just because it’s suddenly become physically
possible for them to do so. What’s going to happen before net
bandwidth and bigger disk drives make it possible to pass around
movies as we do music today? I compare it to Tiananmen square. We
are enjoying the short dance of freedom before governments come in
with heavy weapons. And the worst thing about it is that we are
giving them a good reason to do so.”

“I am a follower of Richard Stallman, the creator of the GNU
project and pioneer of the free software movement, but Richard and
I don’t agree on one thing: Richard doesn’t believe in ownership of
intellectual property. I believe that free software and proprietary
software should peacefully coexist. But if you grant that
proprietary intellectual property has a right to exist at all, some
legal protection like copyright becomes necessary. The important
part is finding the right balance between the rights of the
copyright holder and the good of the general public. Over time,
that balance has shifted toward the rights of the copyright holder
and away from the good of the public. For example, copyright used
to be an exchange of government protection, for the author allowing
his work to go into the public domain eventually. These days,
copyrights effectively never expire.”


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