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Stallman Says Pirate Party Hurts Free Software

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the arrr-not-so-fast dept.

GNU is Not Unix 546

bonch writes "Richard Stallman has written an article on the GNU Web site describing the effect the Swedish Pirate Party's platform would have on the free software movement. While he supports general changes to copyright law, he makes a point that many anti-copyright proponents don't realize — the GPL itself is a copyright license that relies on copyright law to protect access to source code. According to Stallman, the Pirate Party's proposal of a five-year limit on copyright would remove the freedom users have to gain access to source code by eventually allowing its inclusion in proprietary products. Stallman suggests requiring proprietary software to also release its code within five years to even the balance of power."

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546 comments

http://firefoxhtml5test.webs.com/ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28810905)

Correction (5, Insightful)

Jack9 (11421) | about 5 years ago | (#28810909)

Stallman Says Pirate Party Hurts HIS VERSION OF Free Software

FTFY

Re:Correction (4, Funny)

pilgrim23 (716938) | about 5 years ago | (#28811019)

Its the eye-patch; it detracts from the visual purity of the cosmic goodness of the beard

Anyone Give A Shit What That Clown Says? Anyone... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811039)

Stallman == Irrelevant Wacko

Re:Anyone Give A Shit What That Clown Says? Anyone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811365)

More people than those who give a shit what some anonymous cow fart says

Re:Anyone Give A Shit What That Clown Says? Anyone (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 years ago | (#28811597)

Far from it. RMS is the modern John the Baptist. He is an important part of the overall discussion, even if you don't agree with him.

Re:Correction (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811049)

Some people define "Free Software" as "Free as in beer." Others define it as "Free as in speech." Stallman defines it "Free as in 'Do as I say or else!'"

Stallman and Gates are two sides of the same coin.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28811199)

I'm pretty sure Stallman's GPL'ed software isn't forced on the user of virtually all new computers like Gates. The comparison seems to be quite a bit inaccurate. He is perfectly correct about copyright law- the same laws that are ever so widely abused for Gates' benefit are also required in order for FOSS to exist.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | about 5 years ago | (#28811309)

I'm pretty sure Stallman's GPL'ed software isn't forced on the user of virtually all new computers like Gates.

He doesn't have the power to do so, but his explicitly stated goal is for people to only use "Free" software, where "Free" refers to his own twisted definition.

Re:Correction (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#28811553)

I'm pretty sure free= 0 no cost to obtain and compile. So no, it's not a twisted definition.

People eventually use free software anyway. It's the law of all businesses and products. Market pressure will always push product costs towards 0. free software is just more honest about it.

Re:Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811607)

I'm pretty sure Stallman's GPL'ed software is forced on the user of virtually all new computers exactly like Gates, i.e. not at all. Stallman has also advocated that all software should be "free" i.e. GPL'ed, and enforced by people with guns [gnu.org] . Not even Gates goes that far vis-a-vis proprietary software.

He is perfectly correct about copyright law- the same laws that are ever so widely abused for Gates' benefit are also required in order for FOSS to exist.

That claim is complete nonsense. Without copyright, all software is free by definition.

Re:Correction (1, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 5 years ago | (#28811339)

If you ever understood why Richard Stallman takes exactly the stance he takes, you would never make so a silly statement.

Richard Stallman saw his own code he wrote for his own projects incorporated in a commercial product and got forbidden to ever reuse or publish his own code. And thus because the company in question had a license in place that basicly made all changes and extension to the code base the property of the company.

So Richard Stallman sought a way to make such a code grap impossible by design - by inventing a license that removes all your rights to all the code you were given the moment you try to shield it from other people.

So when Richard Stallman says that the GPL-type licenses are here not only to open source, but to keep the software actually free, then he has a point.

If you because of your limited experience don't see the point, it's not Richard Stallman's fault.

Re:Correction (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 5 years ago | (#28811435)

If you ever understood why Richard Stallman takes exactly the stance he takes, you would never make so a silly statement.

Richard Stallman saw his own code he wrote for his own projects incorporated in a commercial product and got forbidden to ever reuse or publish his own code. And thus because the company in question had a license in place that basicly made all changes and extension to the code base the property of the company.

Are you implying that I haven't had the same thing happen to me? I don't think his stance is a good one on the principle, much less on an anecdote.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#28811449)

Richard Stallman saw his own code he wrote for his own projects incorporated in a commercial product and got forbidden to ever reuse or publish his own code.

If you abolish copyright entirely, this doesn't happen. Thus your objection is ridiculous.

So when Richard Stallman says that the GPL-type licenses are here not only to open source, but to keep the software actually free, then he has a point.

It's true! Actually, without copyright law there is less freedom for the software. As a customer you might get into a position where you can only get binaries. However, that is only a problem for GPL-type licenses, not for BSD-type licenses. Both are Open licenses, and both are arguably Free (depending on your definition.) So while he does have a point, his being forbidden to reuse or publish his own code isn't an argument against abolishing copyright.

Also, I disagree with his premise; the source code would get out, if the penalties for releasing it were to vanish.

Re:Correction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811627)

Holy crap are you a stupid person.

That garbage you just wrote is junk you ACTUALLY believe?

One of the fatal flaws of the entire open source model, you can't keep the idiots and nutcases like Sique out.

Re:Correction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811343)

Stallman and Gates are two sides of the same coin.

Yep - they're a pair of dirty jews!

Re:Correction (2, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#28811591)

I see in terms of "the right to life" in Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights vs "the right to bear arms" in the 2nd amendment of the US constitution.

The BSD camp is like the American position which focuses on the rights of the individual, whereas the GNU camp is more like the European position which focuses on the rights of others.

Re:Correction (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 years ago | (#28811625)

I think a better analogy is buyer===marketplace===vendor.
Gates and RMS argue about where to position the marketplace.
That the argument can proceed freely is, itself, the crucial point.

Re:Correction (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#28811093)

You are most correct to point that out and it is my sentiment as well. If a 5-year-old version of some software is worth commercial exploitation, then let them have it. Fair is fair. BSD licensed code is a commonly exploited open source license where people and companies take without returning. Look at Mac OS X as a prime example, but Windows also contains BSD licensed components... or it did... not sure if it does now or not.

He is also correct in pointing out that weakening copyright terms and law in general means that the GPL also becomes weaker. That's fine in my opinion, but as anyone who desires to wield power to further his cause fears losing that power. So of course he doesn't want to lose that power.

Re:Correction (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811171)

Exploited? The BSD license specifically says that anyone can use it for any purpose. That is neither exploitation or taking without giving back. It is simply using the software under the INTENDED terms of the license.

You fucking GPL nutjobs are always trying to twist shit around to suit your idiotic ideals.

Re:Correction (1, Offtopic)

NickFortune (613926) | about 5 years ago | (#28811207)

You are most correct to point that out and it is my sentiment as well. If a 5-year-old version of some software is worth commercial exploitation, then let them have it. Fair is fair

As long as it works both ways, of course. If a commercial work is over five years old, then it too should pass into the public domain. As long as that's agreed, then yeah: fair is fair.

Without that, what you propose is a charter to plunder free software without offering anything in return.

Re:Correction (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#28811595)

If can't be done both ways. Commercial software's copyright and GPL software's copyright uses the same law. The law for one is the law for all. Could commercial vendors attempt to interfere with that? Yeah, they can try, but let's say that 5 years was the rule without appeal. Microsoft might attempt to allow only currently licensed users to have updates but I think it would be found that people would create a YUM or APT style repository system to manage these sorts of updates just fine.

It would be an interesting, though very unlikely, change on the scape of things.

But come to think of it, what I guess we would see is the continuous update and extension of copyrighted software through updates programs. But if that were the case, I doubt it would be a much concerns as once again, the law for one is the law for all. Most projects under the GPL are either abandoned or constandly being updated. Those that are being updated should have their copyrights extended by virtue of the same law. But then again, "versions and updates" are just another interesting question related to software and copyrights.

Total Fucking Moron (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811219)

"BSD licensed code is a commonly exploited open source license where people and companies take without returning"

Holy shit are you a fucking moron.

No wonder open source developers are dumping the viral GPL garbage and moving to open and free licenses.

Re:Correction (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | about 5 years ago | (#28811563)

What power does Stallman wield? He doesn't want users to lose their access to source code. That's power for the users, not for Richard Stallman.

Re:Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811189)

Now the truth can be told. Slashbots don't really care about open source or free software, they just want free shit and warez.

Re:Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811195)

he is right though, that would start happening. They should just put a prevision in the law that says things that are freely available are free and cant be obsorbed by other things

Re:Correction (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 5 years ago | (#28811511)

Any GPL code would lose its protected status, which would apply to most of the free software you use. The whole point of the GPL is to give users access to source indefinitely, and that's why it's amusing when Slashdot's readership adopts all these anti-copyright positions that would end up invalidating the GPL, because the GPL is a license that copyrights the source code. Without GPL protection (aka, copyright protection), proprietary vendors could do whatever they wanted with your code.

It really gives one the impression that Slashdot's readers just accept whichever position is most self-serving--ranting about the evils of copyrights in a pro-piracy article (because they want free stuff from P2P networks), and ranting about the evils of commercial corporations in a GPL violation article (because they want free GPL software). You can't have it both ways.

Re:Correction (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811645)

It really gives one the impression that Slashdot's readers just accept whichever position is most self-serving

"The impression"? That's been the truth around this place for years now. "Copyright is evil" equals "I don't think I should pay for anything", and it always has.

Note that nearly all of Slashdot's current readership are non-programmers and generally non-technical (in the true sense of the word).

Re:Correction (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#28811599)

Reading TFA, I see there's one thing the P Party says that I don't agree with: the five year copyright term. Yes, copyrights are far too long, but five years is far too short. IINM it was 20 years extendable to thirty in 1900, that seems to me a good length. If you can't make any money off your work after twenty years you're not going to, and if you HAVE made money off of it in twenty years, well, you've made your money, you have been encouraged to do more creating. If the programs I'd registered copyright on had made me a millionaire, I'd be on a beach somewhere with a cold drink in my hand.

Stallman says:
Even if copyright permits noncommercial sharing, the EULA may forbid it.

I still don't see how clickthrough EULAs can possibly be seen as a "contract". My friend Mike buys a program and since he's not technologically savvy, he has me (or his son) install it for him. He's bought and paid for the copy; he owns that copy. Unlike the dinasaur days when the world only had a few hundred computers, he didn't sign any contract. Now, I or his son installs HIS software on HIS computer, and he doesn't even likely know there IS a contract. How can he be held to that so-called "contract"?

As to DRM, I think if you use DRM your work should not be eligible for copyright at all. That's what copyright is for - to protect the work.

Noncommercial copying should not be against the law, and before the digital age it wasn't.

From TFA:
Users, still denied the source code, would still be unable to use the program in freedom. The program could even have a "time bomb" in it to make it stop working after 5 years, in which case the "public domain" copies would not run at all.

This should be illegal. And software can be reverse engineered and a third party patch applied.

Once the Swedish Pirate Party had announced its platform, free software developers noticed this effect and began proposing a special rule for free software: to make copyright last longer for free software, so that it can continue to be copylefted

First, Stallman says he would be happy with ten years, I don't agree. But I'm a geezer, 20 years is a lot longer to a 27 year old than it is to a 57 year old*. Secondly, after the original copyright expired, all the parts of the work written after original copyright are still protected by copyright; if GNU's copyright were to run out tomorrow, all enhancements made to GNU would still be under copyright.

I could support a law that would make GPL-covered software's source code available in the public domain after 5 years, provided it has the same effect on proprietary software's source code

Personally, I don't think you should be able to copyright object code. The purpose of copyright (in the US at least) is to get works into the public domain. The source code should be available to the public, justas details of a patented machine are. After all, the whole idea is to "promote the progress of the useful arts and sciences", not to line somebody's pockets.

That said, it's been said that when you're selling something, make the asking price high and you can always come down. Perhaos this is what the PP's "5 years" is about: "Ok, we'll compromise on a 30 year copyright length".

I'd liketo see another reform that Free Software fols disagree on me with: I'd like one to actually have to register a copyright. There should be no registration fee, and registration could be done at your country's copyright office's web site.

*Yes, Im aware that Stalman is a geezer, too.

Why wait 5 years? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#28810947)

If access to source code is truly a right, shouldn't that right be enshrined in law from day one?

Re:Why wait 5 years? (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#28811257)

Precisely. I think the pirate party is making a bargain here as to not look like info-anarchists. 5 years is only a compromise between the ideal and what exists today.

Re:Why wait 5 years? (2, Interesting)

Schadrach (1042952) | about 5 years ago | (#28811555)

Frankly, the real answer regarding code is that it needs to be either copyrightable or patentable, but not both. Both patents and copyrights need adjustments, beyond that. Patents probably need a variable term dependent on the industry to which it applies, and to be more thoroughly checked before being granted. Copyrights need a duration reduction as well, to something longer than patents but still life of author or shorter. Perhaps an XX years or life of author, whichever is longer (to keep "passing something to my children" as a means of encouraging output), with a requirement that a copy of the work be provided to the government as an "original" to be maintained for when the work reaches public domain, provided at some point during the copyrighted timespan. For software, the working published source alongside the tools/environment to make it compile and function is the necessary implementation or "original" required.

Re:Why wait 5 years? (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | about 5 years ago | (#28811395)

That is a pretty big "if" right there.

Re:Why wait 5 years? (3, Funny)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 5 years ago | (#28811411)

Read the constitution! It says right there: Life, Liberty, and access to the source code of all software products so that you can modify them and create derivative works!

Re:Why wait 5 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811617)

Why not make science something that you cannot patent and own?
'opensource' drugs and medicine, technology, etc.
Seems like a good idea to me and probably 99% of the world. Just that greedy 1% holding us back.

Re:Why wait 5 years? (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 5 years ago | (#28811417)

As far as I understand, Stallman maintains that all commodity software should be free for ethical reasons, and he is fine with getting there via incremental changes to the copyright law.

Re:Why wait 5 years? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811451)

Because intellectual property law is a system for incentivising innovation. You have to balance benefit to the creator and benefit to society. We have too much idea protection right now, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have any.

Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (0)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | about 5 years ago | (#28810953)

Talk about trying to have it both ways.

Re:Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 5 years ago | (#28811067)

How so?
He wants it one way, GPL software should be protected. That is it, he seems fine with copyright for that purpose. He does support reducing the term of copyrights, but fears that this will lead to the inclusion of GPL software in products were the user has less rights.

Personally copyright should last a little longer than 5 years but not life+70 or whatever steamboat willy is up to these days. Any sold software should have to come with source, because without it the product has very little value as time goes on.

Re:Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (5, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#28811165)

I rarely agree with RMS these days (as I discuss in a post below) but I don't agree with typical piracy either. I've done it, but as I get older, I want to pay for products.

I see the game companies I loved as a kid all go out of business, each citing piracy as a primary reason their PC game sales dropped. Other companies just shifted to console development, where piracy is more difficult. If you don't pay to support a product, don't expect that product to exist forever. I also believe a creator deserves the right to be financially rewarded for their creations. Being able to just take that creation for free isn't a right.

I still download a few albums illegally, but if I like them, I usually buy them afterward. Certain artists, I just buy the albums directly.

The only "piracy" I outright support is on two issues.

1 - Preservation of abandonware. If no one is selling a product for 5 years, you should be able to distribute it for preservation. You can not charge to distribute another person's product. If the creator re-releases the product, you can no longer distribute it again for 5 years.

2 - The DCMA says I can't legally circumvent copyright protection, but sadly copyright protection often interferes with software working correctly. I use no-cd/no-dvd patches on every game I own, and try to strip DRM from all software that I can, because I want the software to work correctly.

Re:Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 5 years ago | (#28811313)

Eh, having worked in the game industry.... I've found that 'piracy killed our product' is really a cover for 'we don't understand the market well enough, so we will blame something concrete'.

Thus I tend to take management saying that as they are so out of touch with the actual marketplace that they lead the company into it's own black hole but do not want any blame associated with them and thus hurt their chances of moving on to other companies to ruin.

Re:Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (5, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#28811423)

So companies like Looking Glass Studios and Origin didn't understand their market well enough?

Every RPG enthusiast I know has played Planescape: Torment. Yet none of them purchased it. The game was deemed a commercial failure, and I'm not sure we'll ever see another game like it, despite the fact that Penny Arcade called it simply the greatest PC game of all time, and most RPG lovers call it their favorite.

It might be an excuse used by management to cover a bad product in some cases, but piracy does affect game sales to an extent.

And when you don't pay to support products, you can't bitch when those products disappear.

Re:Either you agree with copyrights or you don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811227)

What the fuck are you talking about? I agree we need a copyright system but disagree that people should be fined $20 per stolen song. (look it up)

This guy is way to extreme. Pirate Party doesn't hurt free software, and proprietary software should not be forced to give up source code. That is having it both ways, it's basically saying that everyone should be able to easily steal code from proprietary software so we can save the GPL on open source. Which of course is bullshit.

Stallman forces Pirate Party to walk the plank . . (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 5 years ago | (#28810957)

. . . film at eleven . . .

Pirate Party Slogan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28810985)

All the source code r belong to us!

Re:Pirate Party Slogan (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 5 years ago | (#28811527)

So close and yet so far. Perhaps you meant:

All yer source code arrrrr belong to us!

Lessig Already Proposed this (4, Informative)

Reverend528 (585549) | about 5 years ago | (#28810993)

I'm pretty sure Lessig already proposed this 5 years ago. Both ideas of short copyright and a requirement that the source code should be released for copyright to be valid.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (5, Funny)

l3ert (231568) | about 5 years ago | (#28811255)

This is why Stallman waited until now to propose it.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#28811291)

short copyright and a requirement that the source code should be released for copyright to be valid.

In other words, like patents except the delayed release of the design.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#28811301)

I like this idea too. Copyright was originally conceived of as a balance. People agree to give up their right to copy in exchange for the hopeful encouragement of publishing companies to publish and authors to write.

People who want copyright on their software should have to give something up to get it. There must be a balance for taking away people's right to copy.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (5, Informative)

jwthompson2 (749521) | about 5 years ago | (#28811403)

The second session of the United States Congress established 14 year Copyright terms with an optional 14 year renewal. Going back to that and requiring publication for application of Copyright would be a good step.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811557)

Back in the early 80's, to get a copyright on software, you had to send a copy of your source code to the Copyright office, as I did on some games I wrote back then. Later, because source code can be so large, they reduced it to sending only the first 50 pages and nothing today. I think the requirement to send source code to receive a copyright is practical today if it were sent on a DVD rather than a huge stack of paper.

Re:Lessig Already Proposed this (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 5 years ago | (#28811567)

> a requirement that the source code should be released for copyright to be valid.

The solution is simple. Binaries are an accidental byproduct of the current technology so don't build the law around them. Solve the real problem.

Copyright is supposed to be a benefit to the public by granting a limited monopoly to encourage the production of new things which eventually go into the public domain. Current copyright law combined with current commercial software release methods do neither. The time limit is such that any program in the public domain will be useful only to archaeologists running emulators and without the source they won't learn much at any rate.

Yes cut the time limit for software, that is the first part.

Then clarify Copyright Law to require the benefit to the public. Only the Source Code, written by humans, is a creative work worthy of copyright so the complete buildable source plus all control scripts, etc must be submitted when registering the copyright. The binaries will only be copyrighted as 'derived works' of that original work.

Software makers would howl about revealing their secret methods. My reply is Copyright isn't supposed to protect secrets, the idea is to REVEAL knowledge in exchange for the limited monopoly. Same for patents.

I believe that would solve RMS's problems with the proposed five year copyright term.

Balance of power? (3, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 5 years ago | (#28811005)

Life is not a game. You want to show people the source... neat. You want to not... also neat. Yes, the GPL needs copyright law to force people to reopen the source- but is that a good thing?

Maybe instead of asking for mandatory source opening on all products, ask for it only on products that have been abandoned? The LoC could keep all source in escrow, and once that company stopped building new products based on the source, it could be opened up.

Re:Balance of power? (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#28811073)

Maybe instead of asking for mandatory source opening on all products, ask for it only on products that have been abandoned? The LoC could keep all source in escrow, and once that company stopped building new products based on the source, it could be opened up.

Do you really want releasing software to become a process for which you have to register and do paperwork with the government at every release?

Honestly, I don't know how any of this is considered "Free" (as in Papers, please.).

Re:Balance of power? (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 5 years ago | (#28811433)

Do you really want releasing software to become a process for which you have to register and do paperwork with the government at every release?

It already is, if you want to register for a copyright. And if you don't, fine.

Honestly, I don't know how any of this is considered "Free" (as in Papers, please.).

Well, I'm not part of the "all code/information wants to be free" religion. I just cry at some of the wonderfl abandonware I cannot access.

Re:Balance of power? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 5 years ago | (#28811517)

Do you really want releasing software to become a process for which you have to register and do paperwork with the government at every release?

Currently, when you release software, you are enjoy the free services of armed government agents and courts who you can send to punish those who infringe your copyrights. Registering your releases seems like a small price to pay for that entitlement.

Giants? (2, Insightful)

EvilBudMan (588716) | about 5 years ago | (#28811007)

What does Stallman mean by meandering giants? Bill gates couldn't whip me because I have a sling.

subject (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811035)

Honestly, merely reducing copyright to 40 years from creation would be a MASSIVE step in the right direction.

Re:subject (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811161)

anon due to moderation...

It would certainly be a step in the right direction. And while i believe that a 5year term is to big a step, 40 years seems to small a step for me. I would prefer closer to 10 years with a single extension.

Re:subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811455)

As a lobbyist for the Walt Disney corporation, your opinion on the matter is being taken under serious consideration, Mr Coward.

Re:subject (1)

n30na (1525807) | about 5 years ago | (#28811559)

What's the point of extension at all? Shouldnt you just get the full length upon creation/registration of a work? Extension just seems to make things more confusing for me.

Re:subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811571)

and add or till the death of the creator.

Release later? (5, Interesting)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#28811051)

Stallman suggests requiring proprietary software to also release its code within five years to even the balance of power.

Why not require the source code to be submitted with the copyright registration?

Re:Release later? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811125)

Stallman suggests requiring proprietary software to also release its code within five years to even the balance of power.

Why not require the source code to be submitted with the copyright registration?

Consider the red tape involved with every patch released. Maybe the OS community has no issue with this, but this is a government body you're talking about. It won't be pretty.

Re:Release later? (5, Insightful)

mrvan (973822) | about 5 years ago | (#28811299)

This actually makes a lot of sense.

In the original purpose of copyright law - books and other written material - there is no source code other than the thing that is distributed.

In a sense, companies like MS use copyright not to be a sole distributer of the copyrighted material (the source code), but to prevent all distribution of said material. By withholding the "manuscript", we ("the people") are granting a temporary monopoly on something we don't even really know what it is.

Computer programs are quite different from the creative works copyright was intended for, and also quite different from the "machines" and "inventions" patents were intended for. By trying to apply legislation to something quite different than what it was meant for we are creating a lot of problems, including overly broad patents, copyright monopoly on something that isn't distributed at all, unclear definition of derivative work in the face of bundling, linking, and reverse engineering, etc. etc..

Instead of limiting copyright to X years (possibly a very good idea for books, songs etc.), I think we need to think of a way to protect software makers from abuse of the fruits of his/her labour, while giving "the people" something substantive in return for the monopoly, the policing, etc.

This solution could include registering source code but it might be better to protect a "program" or "solution" than to try to protect source code as if it is some kind of literary work, and then extend that to the compiled version of that source code

Re:Release later? (1)

janwedekind (778872) | about 5 years ago | (#28811649)

For proprietary software companies a copyright registration won't be a sufficient incentive to reveal the source code. They will just keep licensing binaries and use digital restriction management instead of the law to impose their rules on users.

Stallman Says (4, Funny)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | about 5 years ago | (#28811097)

We played Stallman Says at computer camp last summer. It's like Simon Says except the winner gets a fake beard to wear for the rest of the afternoon.

I... don't kiss many girls.

Stallman hurts free software (0, Troll)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#28811105)

Watch me burn some karma here, but this is the truth.

Stallman has contributed greatly over the years to free software. You can't change that. I appreciate his contributions.

But Stallman is a zealot who hurts the image of free software, making it difficult to sell the concept of free software to suits. He goes after Linus, Mozilla and Google, never realizing who his friends are in the FOSS world. He demands 100% compliance with his growing list of restrictions, or you aren't free.

Freedom is not a list of restrictions. In reality, he wants to remove rights, give you a list of restrictions, and do so to protect the interests of developers, protecting their code from being stolen. He considers this very important to him.

How is this really different from DRM? DRM restricts users to protect the developer/artist from having their property stolen.

Except RMS claims DRM is evil, and the GPL to be some holy mandate.

True freedom is public domain. Public domain certainly doesn't protect your code from being copied or stolen. Each developer has to make the decision themselves how to restrict usage of their creation. RMS can't claim that his list of restrictions is the only acceptable set of restrictions.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (2, Informative)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#28811239)

DRM is a way for companies to control the behavior of users after they've bought the product. It's a way to lease things to people rather than sell them. It's a crime that companies are allowed to 'sell' you DRM things. It's a lease. You don't own it.

Stallman is completely correct in calling DRM evil. Witness Amazon forcing people to return their books when the fact that they 'own' them is inconvenient for Amazon.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (4, Funny)

null etc. (524767) | about 5 years ago | (#28811269)

This is worthy of a new acronym: DRMS.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811471)

LOL DAWG! You juss made a brutha choke on diss fried chikin right heya muthafuka!

Re:Stallman hurts free software (3, Insightful)

the Atomic Rabbit (200041) | about 5 years ago | (#28811315)

> Watch me burn some karma here, but this is the truth... Stallman is a zealot who hurts the image of free software, making it difficult to sell the concept of free software to suits.

And what an original, devastating insight.

Actually, no. People have been criticizing Stallman on these grounds since at least the 1980s, even after he's been proven right on issue after issue.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#28811519)

So he has been proven right that freedom is only defined by his growing list of restrictions?

I would love to see that proof.

I'd love to see it proved that Google, Mozilla, and Linux hurt free software as he has claimed.

I'd love to see it proved that the cloud is a joke.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (4, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | about 5 years ago | (#28811375)

While Stallman is a zealot, I think you need to re-read his statement, because it's an entirely reasonable explanation of how free/open source software would be affected by a short copyright term. Essentially open source code would be forced into the public domain, while closed source software would not.

Plus, if you follow his argument, reducing the copyright term would actually increase the use of DRM in closed source software.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (1, Troll)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 5 years ago | (#28811453)

I was commenting on Stallman in general. Above, I remark how I agree with him about the Pirate Party on this particular issue.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811421)

IANAL, but I believe that the GPL is not intended to give restrictions. Instead, I believe it is intended to give allowances. I think it is copyright that the GPL relies upon to protect the work. This is probably why Stallman is worried. (I didn't read the article though.) Once again, IANAL.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (4, Insightful)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | about 5 years ago | (#28811473)

Stallman hurts free software

Maybe you should read what he actually wrote. His argument is very tempered and coherent. I believe the heart of it comes down to this sentence

The difference between source code and object code and the practice of using EULAs would give proprietary software an effective exception from the general rule of 5-year copyright -- one that free software does not share.

This is how software is different from other copyright-able works. With a song or book, the copyrighted thing is the end result and what is distributed to users. As soon as a song falls into the public domain (whether 5 years or 100 years) the actual work is out there for others to use, copy, modify, whatever. But with proprietary software, the copyrighted material is kept closed and secret. The thing the users have is a compiled version that can't easily (or sometimes at all) be used in another project or modified or learned from, even once it's in the public domain.

With insanely long copyright terms, proprietary software is protected by the fact that you don't have access to their source code and the law; whereas free software is only protected by the law. Once you take away the force of law after 5 years, proprietary software is still protected by the secrecy, and free software is completely unprotected.

Now if you want to get into a holy war over the GPL vs. BSD, fine, but that's a separate argument. If you care at all about the GPL, then RMSs point about the Pirate Party's goal makes a whole lot of sense.

Re:Stallman hurts free software (2, Informative)

Polumna (1141165) | about 5 years ago | (#28811503)

I believe you are exactly backwards. DRM is about limiting the user. The GPL is about freedom for the _user_. As is pointed out ad nauseum every time a GPL story shows up on slashdot, the restrictions only apply on distribution of binaries.

Simple example: Once upon a time, in my linux n00b days, thanks to the GPL, I used to change the source of ... what was it, scp and grep? to make the flag for directory recursion lowercase r, because I couldn't be bothered to keep track of what used -R instead. Now, say Apple doesn't release the source for Darwin. It's BSD licensed, of course, so they don't have to. Then, to keep everyone tied into the Apple experience, they implement some kind of hash check before anything gets executed (sounds like DRM), so even if I reverse-engineer and compile my own binaries, I can't run them.

One way, I, the user, can do what I want. The other way, I can't do anything I want, despite that they are both open source. It's not that hard.

That said, I generally agree with you about RMS. I believe his difficulty is that he has valid practical considerations that, when stated in legalese or abstract ethical notions, sound crazy. Then, his unflinching, uncompromising nature drives him into the fringe.

Isn't Stallman the one... (1, Flamebait)

Carik (205890) | about 5 years ago | (#28811153)

... who insists that open source software is inevitably better, and will inevitably beat the closed source competition? If so, why is he trying to mandate protection for it in the law? Sure, mandate that states can't ignore open source just because it doesn't include junkets and dinners with executives, but forcing people to open their own software just to "level the playing field"?

That sounds like an idea from someone who's afraid that maybe his side won't measure up. "Yes, we're better! All of our software is inherently better, and anyone who tries it will clearly see that! Now, let's force the other side to ruin their business plan and do things our way, because otherwise they have an unfair advantage!"

Re:Isn't Stallman the one... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811273)

... who insists that open source software is inevitably better, and will inevitably beat the closed source competition?

You are probably thinking of discredited neocon kook Eric S Raymond.

Stallman says you should use "free software" for ideological reasons even if it is inferior.

Re:Isn't Stallman the one... (4, Insightful)

the Atomic Rabbit (200041) | about 5 years ago | (#28811279)

> Isn't Stallman the one who insists that open source software is inevitably better,

No, you have Stallman confused with open source evangelists. Stallman has always maintained that whether or not free software is "better" is irrelevant; that its being freer is which matters.

Re:Isn't Stallman the one... (-1, Redundant)

Carik (205890) | about 5 years ago | (#28811367)

Right. Well, I still think he's an idiot, but at least now I think he's a consistent idiot. Thanks for clearing that up.

Here's a bizarre idea (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#28811179)

A patent-like right for software that lasts for a much shorter time than an ordinary patent that has as its requirement that the source code for the software be released. Basically reward companies for releasing source code by granting a short term exclusive right of some kind for doing it.

Re:Here's a bizarre idea (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 5 years ago | (#28811311)

That works so long as they also provide the necessary information to compile it.

... just having the source code is not enough, if it's in some undocumented language with no compiler available.

(and even with that, I see some sort of code obfuscation being done on anything that's published, and all comments stripped out to make it difficult to understand what's actually being submitted)

THE TRUTH (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811209)

Richard Stallman is jealous that pirates have the better beards.

RMS had a good idea??? (1, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 5 years ago | (#28811251)

While I can not imagine it passing, the idea of commercial software entities having to release their source after 5 years if they want copyright protection sounds wonderful.

Software copyright is the only form where the material has no automatic way to enter the public domain when it should. Some kind of escrow as a requirement for protection would do the trick.

Why compulsory speech? (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28811615)

While I can not imagine it passing, the idea of commercial software entities having to release their source after 5 years if they want copyright protection sounds wonderf

I would shoot everyone that publicly supported it if passed, just because it is an advocacy of compulsory, and therefor, non-free speech. The buck of FOSS stops at the 1st amendment.

Ideas (3, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 5 years ago | (#28811293)

Stallman makes a good point. One problem with copyright at present and the distribution models is that it actually inhibits the development of knowledge and civilisation by making information more difficult to maintain. I would like to see copyright terms rolled back to what it was originally before it was extended so many times, and also for copyright to expire immediately when the work is no longer being published or being made accessible at the similar cost it was originally offered at. The copyright could be reinstated if the work is offered again by its author for a similar price as it was originally offered. I would like to see an ability to pay scheme introduced that would allow poor/low income persons to access knowledge at a lower cost, and for access to software at reduced cost for hobbyist use. one of the problems with commercial software is it is so often so expensive, the price can sometimes be the same for a revenue producing busienss as a non commercial hobbyist. The development model and source is also closed which retards the improvement of the software, and takes away control of users from being able to understand what the software they paid for and they run on their computer is doing, or offer their own improvements to the software. I would like to see more of a model adopted by companies of an ability to pay price structure, and where they provide source code to those who use the sotware, even if under a proprietary source licence.

Stallman + katana (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 years ago | (#28811297)

After the Ninja's appointed him as their leader with the katana, it appears that this is just another battle in the seemingly endless war between Ninjas and pirates.

Richard Stallman? (0, Troll)

XPeter (1429763) | about 5 years ago | (#28811305)

Shouldn't he pay more attention to his operating system, and not TPB?

Re:Richard Stallman? (1)

SpoodyGoon (1574025) | about 5 years ago | (#28811443)

He has an operating system?

Typo in the article title (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 5 years ago | (#28811329)

Stallman Says Pirate Party Hurts Expensive Operating System and Brand Name Software Companies

Corrected it for you.

5 years is just too short, try 15. (5, Insightful)

GiMP (10923) | about 5 years ago | (#28811379)

I think that the optimal number of years is closer to 15, it should be treated like "classic cars" are in Pennsylvania. This is enough years that publishers have had sufficient time to make profit, that the work has had sufficient opportunity to make and exploit its cultural impact, and is not so many years that the work is lost from lack of preservation.

In terms of software, 15 years is quite a bit of time, enough that software is unlikely to be of significant commercial use, so that copyright-lapsed software shouldn't too seriously affect the sales of modern solutions. Open sourced material lapsed into the public domain wouldn't be as much of a concern as it would be within a 5 year period.

If this was in force today, old versions of the GNU toolkits, the X11 system, and even Linux itself would be in the public domain. That might seem scary, but we're talking really old versions. If someone in 2009 wants to include Linux 0.99 into their embedded product without contributing their changes back, I'm not sure thats really a bad thing.

He's nuts (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28811391)

Stallman was at my university for a lecture a few months ago. Halfway through he starts lambasting our IT department, most of whom are in the audience, for requiring users to authenticate before gaining network access. The school has a policy specifically *banning* tracking usage or anything invasive. They only require that users provide a username/password before getting network access, and he tears them a new one.

The IT department, BTW, is moving *away* from proprietary (specifically Microsoft) products. Right as the IT department is moving *to* open source, one of FOSS's biggest names decides to publicly hate on them.

an interesting point (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | about 5 years ago | (#28811485)

If the purpose of copyright is to give exclusive rights to a work of intellectual property for a given period to promote the creation of those works before they are added to the wealth of the public domain then what does that mean for copyrighted closed-source software? It seems like the public would be entitled to the source of any software when the copyright for that software expires because people don't tend to just copyright binaries.

This leads to some awkward problems with closed source projects that we don't tend to find with other copyrighted works because it raises the risks that a copyright owner would be protected without any guarantee that they'd be able to supply the public with their copyrighted work when their protection elapsed. But there is also the issue that they never really released the source either. It could be argued that they released a derivative work of their own source when they sold copies of the binaries so compelling them to release the source might not be wrong as well as impractical.

Given the long copyright terms we have now and the pace of technology I don't expect this to be that serious of an issue but we really don't seem prepared to handle this.

A compromise (3, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 5 years ago | (#28811493)

Revitalizing copyright formalities would help to satisfy both parties. One of the traditional formalities that an applicant for a copyright registration in the US had to fulfill was depositing 'best copies' of his work with the Library of Congress. This not only served as a way for the Library to enlarge its collection inexpensively, but also aided the public by preserving copies of the work, which the public could use.

In the case of computer software, I propose that all people seeking a US copyright for works which include a software portion provide copies of the software in such forms, and with such supplemental material as the Library determines are best in order to preserve the work for posterity, and make the knowledge in the work accessible to at least other persons having a reasonable skill in the art, and which pose no, or the least barrier for people to make any and all lawful uses of that software at any time (such as making adaptations or backups pursuant to 17 USC 117 during the copyright term, or anything at all after the copyright term). This would not make software any more free than it currently is, but would make software less opaque. The non-copyrightable ideas and algorithms and learning that compromise a given program would be more accessible even during the term, furthering the goal of promoting the progress of science, just as pioneering literary techniques may be learned by reading a book, and used freely.

Developers who wished to keep their secrets would, of course, be free to not meet the requirements for copyrightable software. Their public domain works would continue to have secret source code.

I am aware, btw, that this would require that the US withdraw from most of the various copyright treaties. Since no meaningful reform is possible with those treaties in place (such as realistic term lengths), I'm in favor of withdrawal anyway.

Thanks RMS (1)

FourthAge (1377519) | about 5 years ago | (#28811577)

It is always useful to remind everyone that the same "evil" intellectual property laws that are used to prosecute pirates also ensure that Linux and GNU software remain free. If you are a free software advocate and you "don't believe in imaginary property", then yuo = rtard.

Stallman didn't say this, but it is also important to point out that piracy actually hurts free software, by making all software effectively free to those willing to steal it. Linux may cost $0, but if Windows also costs $0, then (to some) it's a better deal. If you are a pirate and you regard yourself as a daring Robin Hood-style freedom fighter, then the bad news is that you're actually fighting against freedom, not for it.

Escrow? Over my dead body! (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28811583)

I'd say Stallman's idea of requiring proprietary people to publish copyright software or having special copyrights for special authors is pretty much bogus. He is locked into this world where he thinks that the existence of proprietary software undermines free software and he tries to lock people into it. Let's just say that I decided to go and grab the Linux Kernel, forget that, the whole everything of Linux and have it on a specially locked down PC called "Todd" and I sold those at Walmart. How do you think that would halt the movement of open source Linux in any way? It wouldn't.

Unfortunately for Stallman, the FOSS world seems to have left him behind. The GPL has evolved in use to become a way for developers to promote themselves and is hardly the user centered world that Stallman speaks of. The whole point of having the GPL to stop proprietarinism isn't some act of goodness, but it does support. It's so that GPL authors have a vehicle for cashing in by doling out non-GPL licenses. The public gets the GPL work, but if I wrote some widget that MS wanted to slip into Windows... well, I'd certainly take the check!

Stallman is right, think about it... (3, Informative)

PostPhil (739179) | about 5 years ago | (#28811593)

There are two camps using copyright law as protection:

1. Copyright law keeps source code non-proprietary (e.g. GPL)
2. Copyright law keeps source code proprietary, so you have to pay to use the product (e.g. most commercial software)

Now apply a 5 year expiration of copyright:

Result to 1:
The source code is already visible, and nothing protects the code anymore from someone stealing it and making it proprietary, despite the intention of the authors for it to remain non-proprietary.

Result to 2:
The source code is NOT already visible. Lack of copyright protection makes the product free-as-in-beer, but mere expiration of copyright does not force the authors to release the source code. So the result is that no one else can steal the source code like they could for expired FLOSS copyright.

So yes, there IS an imbalance of power. In no way does this help authors preserve the freedom to keep software non-proprietary.
And no, it's NOT just a simple case of each side has a right to keep their code open or closed as they see fit. It favors proprietary software to remain proprietary, but removes protections for software to remain non-proprietary. Stallman is right: the only way to keep it fair is if both sides must make the source code available.

THINK PEOPLE.

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