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When Libertarians Attack Free Software

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the enemy-of-mine-enemy dept.

GNU is Not Unix 944

binarybits writes 'I've got a new article analyzing the unfortunate tendency of libertarian and free-market organizations to attack free software. The latest example is a policy analyst at the Heartland Institute who attacks network neutrality regulations by arguing that advocates have 'unwittingly bought into' the 'radical agenda' of the free software movement. I argue that in reality, the free market and free software are entirely compatible, and libertarians are shooting themselves in the foot by antagonizing the free software movement.'

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Explained by a Simple Formula (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847063)

I posit that one of the most prized products of Capitalism and the free market is to reduce the cost for the end consumer and raise the quality of the products and services. Now, the scientific formula for deciding the positive effectiveness of this is: (customer's percieved value)/(actual retail cost)

So you can see that as the actual retail cost approaches zero, the positive effects of capitalism approach infinity! Unfortunately when the actual cost is zero, it's undefined and your interpretation may vary.

Basically I suggest open source software people instruct these complaining parties to donate a penny or fraction of a penny to once again make them look like the epitome of our capitalistic system at work. Anyone else (who isn't stupid) may continue to use it for free and -- at least in the case of open source software -- enjoy unparalleled benefits like being able to modify and redistribute the source let alone view it. Problem solved.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847227)

This is actually a pretty accurate post when considered from the point of view of capitalism's proponents. They bypass the moral discussion (with respect to individual freedom, personal autonomy, mutual voluntary association, etc) and go straight for the purely utilitarian side-effects (the efficiency of the market with respect to the quality of goods and prices). It seems as though they have conceded the battle where it should have been won, and so whenever perceived downsides to the free market arise (i.e. places where the free markets do not produce a good that collectively is felt as "necessary"), it becomes merely a matter of utilitarian convenience to abandon those principles for a more collectivist approach.

Another effect is that things like free software, communes, etc. are often considered socialistic or communistic in nature when they exist only as a result of mutual voluntary consent, the epitome of free market capitalism.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847299)

I think self proclaimed libertarians forget when they are arguing their pure-capitalism ideals, is that their ideology based on Adam Smith's philosophy isn't only against a government regulatory power... he was against ANY entity with too much power (big corporations).

If anything FOSS should fit perfectly with libertarian, social liberal, and even free market ideology.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847369)

Adam Smith was not against government regulatory power. You should go back and read his work again.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (4, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847505)

Adam Smith was a proponent of a regulated free market, precisely the opposite of what you stated.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (4, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847347)

I posit that one of the most prized products of Capitalism and the free market is to reduce the cost for the end consumer and raise the quality of the products and services.

Do not confuse capitalism with the free market.

The "most prized product" -- the goal -- of capitalism is greater wealth for the aristocrats who control the capital.

The free market doesn't have a goal; the whole idea is that it's a decentralized system of actors each pursuing their own goals. Under certain circumstances -- when buyers and sellers meet with equal power, full knowledge, and no externalization of costs -- it can produce reduced costs and better goods and services for the consumer.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (1, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847499)

Free-market capitalism is the free-market. As for a capitalism whose goal is to provide greater wealth for the aristocrats who control the capital, that does sound a bit like state capitalism or some variant of fascism, e.g. having a central bank that rewards its allies while looting the people, and endless bailouts for politically favored constituencies, such as the AFL-CIO, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, "green" rent-seekers...

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847371)

Now, the scientific formula for deciding the positive effectiveness of this is: (customer's percieved value)/(actual retail cost)

Your formula is missing a term.

The formula should be: [(customer's actual value received) + (customer's bad information value)] / [(price paid by customer) + (other transaction costs)]

For the numerator addition: I could value something at $1000, but if it only really benefits me $500, that's important in terms of systemic effects. This is where marketing, branding, incomplete information, TCO, FUD, etc all come into play.

For the denominator, this is the one that helps your point. The other transaction costs prevent your ratio from ever being undefined, so you can go ahead and remove that clause from your analysis.

Exploitation is the most prized product (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847519)

This just shows the utter hypocrisy of the libertarians. I've said all along that libertarians really want corporate feudalism, or at least they have been completely co-opted by corporate feudalists. Libertarians, in general, feel they are superior to everyone else. They also feel that it is a natural right for the elite to profit from the plebeians. When anything threatens their real agenda, they will set aside their supposed ideals to destroy it. Free software reduces the ability of the elite to profit off of the 'inferior people' of the world, and therefore it must be destroyed. Unions, even though they are a product of free association, also threaten libertarians ability to exploit others, and so you will never find a libertarian who is pro union, even though, according to their ideals, they should be.

The thing is, Libertarians always have such high levels of cognitive dissonance, they do not realize this is what they are doing. They firmly believe they are 'good' people, because being a 'good' person goes along with their image of themselves as vastly superior beings, so they will never look at all the ways their ideals and actions work to oppress the less fortunate. In their minds, they are helping the less fortunate by exploiting them.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (2, Interesting)

FiveDozenWhales (1360717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847579)

I posit that one of the most prized products of Capitalism and the
free market is to reduce the cost for the end consumer and raise
the quality of the products and services.

Funny how a system designed to concentrate wealth in those who already control is does so little for the end consumers.

Funny how most of the time, an unregulated market increases the cost of items taht should be dirt-cheap, until they're an unaffordable luxury to most people.

And how the quality of the products and services doesn't matter, so long as you can dupe or force people into buying it.

In fact, non-free software (e.g., Windows and other Microsoft wares) is a great example of this. Is Office 7 worth $400? Nope, but because it's a free market, the price gets inflated to this point. Is Vista a good product? Nope, but because the industry is regulated only by those in control of it (i.e. Microsoft) hundreds of thousands of people were essentially forced to buy it anyway.

I fail to see how capitalism, a system which places power in the hands of those seeking only to promote their own profit, and who see the people in the system simply as another resource to be exploited, is supposed to benefit anyone other than those who control the wealth, and hence the power.

Remember, the "free market" is not free. It is manipulated like a puppet by those who hold the reins, those who do not care about your wellbeing or options in life.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847621)

thats from the consumer's perspective. if you view the trade as a whole, the most amount of good for each party is achieved when the actual cost matches the perceived cost (ie when your equation = 1). now im not saying that free software is bad; in fact I think its great and encourages companies to put out higher quality products to merit their cost.

What I am saying is that you're misrepresenting economics.

Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847673)

I posit that one of the most prized products of Capitalism and the free market is to reduce the cost for the end consumer and raise the quality of the products and services. Now, the scientific formula for deciding the positive effectiveness of this is: (customer's percieved value)/(actual retail cost)

Isn't that kind of stuff a little hard to measure scientifically when the customer's perceived value is relatively arbitrary and irrational [slashdot.org] ? The same customer can perceive the same item at wildly different values depending on context.

"Heartland Institute"? (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847133)

Where did you get the idea that these guys are libertatians?

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847171)

Where did you get the idea that these guys are libertatians?

From their about page [heartland.org] :

Heartland has been endorsed by some of the country's leading scholars, public policy experts, and elected officials. Dr. Milton Friedman calls Heartland "a highly effective libertarian institute."

Basically they don't want to label themselves as Libertarian because that would foolishly scare away potential non-Libertarians from reading their work. Instead they rely on their publications to speak for their views instead of a label with baggage. If you're an economist, however, you recognize them for what they are: predominantly libertarian with hints of conservatism. Popular knowledge agrees [wikipedia.org] .

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (5, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847319)

Not all self-described libertarians agree or use the same arguments on every subject.

The Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell [lewrockwell.com] style libertarians oppose net neutrality because they oppose the government regulating the internet in any fashion. They view it as a slippery slope which will lead to many draconian regulations and eventual loss of many freedoms now enjoyed.

The Cato Institute, which is considered a libertarian think tank is often made fun of by the LRC and Paul supporters, usually for good reasons.

Libertarianism, like most isms have a large umbrella to hide under.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847679)

Please, correct me if I'm wrong... But I thought Net Neutrality was about preventing providers from choking off the internet to their customers. The government isn't going to regulate anything, they're just saying to the ISPs "hey, you can't regulate the internet, either," and declare the whole thing hands off neutral?

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847345)

A lot of idiots claim to be libertarians. Take a look at Bill Maher for example.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847509)

Many small L libertarians think Milton Friedman can rot in hell.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (0, Flamebait)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847639)

'Basically they don't want to label themselves as Libertarian because that would foolishly scare away potential non-Libertarians from reading their work. Instead they rely on their publications to speak for their views instead of a label with baggage'

Or because they're a rather blatant front organization rolling out astroturf for various vested interests, and their paymasters might not be terribly keen on the label:

http://mediacitizen.blogspot.com/2009/08/unmasking-astroturf.html [blogspot.com]

'The Heartland Institute, in particular, is a poster child for deception. This coin-operated "think tank" specializes in aping industry talking points to downplay global warming, oppose health care reform and attack Net Neutrality. Its Fortune 500 clients include Philip Morris USA, the ExxonMobil Corporation and major telecommunications companies...When asked to report the sources of its funding, Heartland President Joseph L Bast said Heartland "now keeps confidential the identities of all our donors" because revealing it would give fodder to those who want to "abuse a sincere effort at transparency."'

'Popular knowledge agrees.'

Looks more like they astroturfed their own wikipedia article, too. Why are we even taking their 'opinions' seriously?

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (2, Informative)

multi io (640409) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847731)

Instead they rely on their publications to speak for their views instead of a label with baggage.

Well, on their web site [heartland.org] 's header they apparently rely on a lot of dead people to speak for their views. The undeniable advantage of that is that dead people can no longer answer back, so you can quite easily add authority to an anti-net-neutrality article by associating yourself with Ben Franklin, even though nobody will ever know what the man would've had to say about the issue :-P

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847245)

I'm not sure but a libertarian would be opposed to open source software's free concept as it's anti capitalism. The original poster over simplification is why they don't get it. It also show there arrogance and ignorance. Free as in no monetary value is not a libertarian principal it's a socialist/communist point of view.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847327)

I'm not sure but a libertarian would be opposed to open source software's free concept as it's anti capitalism.

There's no reason why a libertarian would be opposed to FLOSS, so long as it is not mandated by the government. Most certainly, giving something away for free, with (GPL) or without (BSDL) strings attached is not contrary to libertarianism.

Free as in no monetary value is not a libertarian principal it's a socialist/communist point of view.

Not really. Socialist point of view isn't "free", it's all about "fair": "from everyone according to their abilities, to everyone according to their contribution". This implies some measurement of the "contribution" to allot the proportional share; this needs not be money in usual sense of the word, but in effect it's still money, and the share is therefore definitely not free.

Communism is money-free, true, but its fundamental difference is that it's completely money-free. Short of anarcho-communism (which is fringe even within communism itself), this implies some form of government that keeps an eye on the economy so it stays that way. That is non-libertarian, not the "free" part.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847265)

I used to be a libertarian.

Then I turned 16.

Re:"Heartland Institute"? (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847495)

The self-described libertarians who oppose free software and other radically egalitarian concepts aren't really libertarians in the sense of Ron Paul or the Libertarian Party. They're Capitalists or Plutocratics who simply want to be free of external restrictions on their ability to make money. But in our society's not-terribly-nuanced way of speaking about politics, anybody who is opposed to the State but isn't trying to replace it with the Church, gets labeled "libertarian".

who's freedom? (4, Insightful)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847143)

Liberarians tend to focus on "my freedom" more than on "your freedom".

Re:who's freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847225)

but to me, my freedom is my freedom whereas they want to see it as "your freedom".

The inherent problem in their stance and the point of the "shooting themselves in the foot" in the fine summary.

Re:who's freedom? (1, Troll)

dyfet (154716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847229)

That is because most Libertarians association freedom with greed rather than freedom with responsibility.

Re:who's freedom? (3, Insightful)

Murpster (1274988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847407)

Stop getting your definition of libertarian from Glenn Beck. Those people aren't libertarians, they're just Republicans who don't want to pay taxes.

Re:who's freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847575)

Well said!

The libertarian mindset is not primarily to save money; rather, the mindset is that an organization should do one thing and do it well. As the government, in our opinions, has overstepped it's boundaries on what it should be controlling, we feel it has become inefficient, unfair, and generally ineffective at any of the goals that (we believe) a goverrnment should have.

Re:who's freedom? (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847513)

That's because most libertarians are selfish bastards at heart. They are not concerned with such collectivist notions as creating a sustainable free society. Rather, it's all about maximizing their ability to put any chemical or object in their body they want, keep all of their money and hire the cheapest labor they can get.

I say this as a political libertarian with social conservative sensibilities. The single biggest reason why libertarianism is going nowhere is because it's such an unfocused movement that grabs whatever liberty it can and that doesn't even pretend to have a higher vision than "I'll get mine." That turns off most voters. Even though under a libertarian system there'd be no corporate welfare at all (since there'd be a simple tax code and subsidizes would be outlawed in the constitution), their behavior gives normal, non-ideological people good reason to believe that a libertarian government would look like a plutocratic-kleptocratic oligarchy of rich people burdening the poor while enriching themselves, and vice totally out of control because libertarians never talk about the practical matter of **regulating vice** so it's like buying beer, not a free-for-all where any store can legally sell your kid crack.

John Galt complex (5, Insightful)

ex-geek (847495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847625)

Liberarians tend to focus on "my freedom" more than on "your freedom".

Actually, a lot of them focus on the freedoms of their imaginary future selves and on the vast fortunes they are surely going to amass. See Joe the Plumber. So they end up defending big corporations and rich people, even if those pollute and exploit. The free market rhetoric is just a facade to sound somewhat reasonable.

Libertarianism itself has valuable insights and should be taken seriously. It is spoiled by those who read Ayn Rand as teenagers and took up a professional career in corporate sponsored think tank libertarianism.

Re:who's freedom? (1, Informative)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847675)

No, we focus on everyones freedoms. The collectivists focus on "how can I benefit by taking from others".

Crap (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847161)

I so totally read that as when librarians attack which would be so cool...libertarians not so much.

Where have you been? (4, Informative)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847179)

A better op-ed on this very subject was published by libertarian think thank The Cato Institute over two years ago: http://www.cato.org/tech/tk/070622-tk.html [cato.org]

Re:Where have you been? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847297)

As both a (mild) libertarian and a supporter of Free Software, I found this to be spot on. My respect for the Cato Institute just went up a few notches.

Re:Where have you been? (2, Funny)

moniker (9961) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847691)

Am I missing something?

The CATO article you linked and the posted article linked above are written by the same person. Look at the authors.

Who knows... maybe the guy doesn't get around to reading his own stuff.

Re:Where have you been? (1)

vyrus128 (747164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847695)

What this guy doesn't get is that most so-called 'libertarians' don't really like freedom -- they just hate anything that looks like cooperation or collectivism. It doesn't matter whether it's voluntary. So while I applaud his principled stance, he's going to have trouble getting anybody to listen.

Not a universal libertarian belief (2, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847183)

I consider myself a libertarian and I'm a fan of FOSS simply because of the liberty and control it gives me over my computer and the software I use.

My opinion has nothing to do with the free market, but if anything, FOSS lowers the barrier of entry into the software market incredibly, allowing anyone with a computer with the opportunity to participate in the market.

Re:Not a universal libertarian belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847231)

The easier you can make someone's life, and give them the ability to be more productive and create more profit, the more you help the free markets.

FOSS is *good* for the free markets, and, in fact, bolsters free markets.

I don't see why libertarians object to this?

Re:Not a universal libertarian belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847285)

As another Libertarian, I agree.

As for the value / cost ratio, don't forget that FOSS often requires a bit more in terms of "time costs" - if for no other reason that since most people are used to proprietary software, there is a retraining period - so it's not ~free~.

Re:Not a universal libertarian belief (1)

CambodiaSam (1153015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847469)

Agreed. This confuses me as a Libertarian. I believe an individual has the right to choose whatever they want to do with their intellectual property.

Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (3, Insightful)

cshbell (931989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847201)

I wrote this here years ago, but it bears repeating: Libertarianism is the carrying out of fascism by other means. The one thing it precisely does not guarantee is liberty.

Re:Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (2, Interesting)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847267)

I would love to hear your rationale behind this fallacious statement.

Re:Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847283)

I wrote this here years ago, but it bears repeating: Libertarianism is the carrying out of fascism by other means. The one thing it precisely does not guarantee is liberty.

Ah, but those ten seconds of pure unadulterated anarcho-capitalism, before someone with power and money realizes that no rules means they get to make the rules, would be fucking sweet. =)

Re:Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847437)

Ten seconds?

In an ideal free market (which those "anarcho-capitalists" seem to think can actually exist), information transfer is instantaneous. Surely the rules would be changed much quicker than 10 seconds, since otherwise we'd have inefficient allocation of resources, right?

Re:Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847521)

Oh, for a want of mod points... but yes, that's what no interference by a governing body means. Extra props for making me laugh with that insight.

Re:Libertarians calling others a 'radical agenda'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847645)

Oh, for want of mod points, to mod both of you morons down for not knowing the difference between Libertarians and Anarcho-Capitalists.

Not all Libertarians are Free Market (3, Insightful)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847207)

That particular variety of Libertarian is more what people in the US think of, but they tend to really be more like republicans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism [wikipedia.org]

Sort of like not all democrats want abortions and the destruction of the military, not all republicans want freedom and religious facism, and not all greens walk to work :)
Not all libertarians are facists, or communists, or free-market/anti-market - take your pick.
Most just want maximal individual freedoms with minimal government.

I'd say the F/OSS market is the BEST expression of Libertarian though, especially the Limited BSD/MIT style licenses. The GPL, well, that's another debate ;)

Re:Not all Libertarians are Free Market (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847383)

The GPL, being dependent on copyright and contracts, is very much in line with strong property rights.

Those loosey-goosey MIT and BSD licenses, not so much.

Re:Not all Libertarians are Free Market (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847471)

Copyright is not property, and it is not a right. So no, libertarians are not pro-restrictive copyright.

Re:Not all Libertarians are Free Market (1)

MaerD (954222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847399)

I so misread that as:

I'd say the F/OSS market is the BEST expression of Libertarian though, especially the Limited BDSM style licenses. The GPL, well, that's another debate ;)

Which would, indeed, be a vastly different debate.

Hear, hear! (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847543)

Libertarianism in the tradition of Ann Rand is about promoting the value of competence by allowing the competent to benefit from their work. Regulations that prevent competition should be regarded as destructive and unnecessary. A libertarian viewpoint should generally be unfavorable towards anti-competitive collusion within an industry in addition to anti-competitive government regulation. I would argue that net neutrality seeks to prevent exactly that.

The developers of OSS are developing for their own enjoyment and advancement. They don't ask for special consideration or subsidies. They meet whiny neediness on the part of users with disdain (RTFM!) and usually come across as selfish and competent in the finest tradition of the Rand libertarian ideal. Net neutrality isn't an artificial way to restrict the success of corporate developers by preventing competition; it promotes competition by preventing anti-competitive dealings between the content creation and content distribution sides of the internet.

e=mc profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847221)

free market organizations attacking free software is because free market organizations are actually free profit orgs. They cry wolf all the time unless there is something in it for them. They see free software as taking profits away from other "free market" organizations without realizing free software would increase profits and decrease operational costs.

Copyright (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847237)

The GPL requires copyright to be enforced. You can't place terms (such as releasing the source code) on distribution if distribution is already completely legal. Copyright is a government interference in the market, using force to set up temporary monopolies. If I understand libertarianism, that's a bad thing. So under the libertarian ideal, there would be no copyright, and so no GNU software.

Re:Copyright (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847361)

Ah, but isn't another Pillar of Libertarianism the right to personal property and defense of that property? I know I've discussed with people on here and other sites whenever an RIAA story comes out, that the artists (read: Labels) have a right to their property, both real and intellectual, and so their copyright on the song (or book or whatever) should continue indefinitely, and should be allowed to pass on to their children, and children's children, and so on.

Re:Copyright (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847459)

Libertarians generally want government force behind contracts, in order to make it practical to do business. I certainly can't speak for them, but I would think at least some libertarians like government enforced copyright laws because they are a simple and inexpensive way to get the types of contracts that differentiate their ideas from anarchy. Instant copyright like we have now but with a seriously limited time period (like a year) would probably be the the most in keeping with pure non-anarchy libertarian ideas.

Also the BSD crowd make a pretty persuasave argument that there would be plenty of free software without GPL.

Re:Copyright (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847697)

Except it isn't inexpensive. The government has to foot a huge bill to enforce laws. And libertarians don't like to pay taxes. See the disconnect here.

Re:Copyright (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847475)

The GPL requires copyright to be enforced. You can't place terms (such as releasing the source code) on distribution if distribution is already completely legal. Copyright is a government interference in the market, using force to set up temporary monopolies. If I understand libertarianism, that's a bad thing. So under the libertarian ideal, there would be no copyright, and so no GNU software

I think that's debatable; you might be able to enforce the GPL strictly from a contract standpoint. It would just be very, very hard to do so.

Libertarian that likes free software (5, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847243)

It serves my own purposes. As a developer I am not interested in licensing and IP. That kind of crap is for big corporations. My interests lie in being a paid expert where I go from one company to another and get paid to integrate or fix their free software based products. For small indepedent businesspeople, free software is a major asset. We can share the non-competitive aspects of the software. Operating systems, webservers, etc are all commodities. The important bits are where they are configured and customized for a businesses' needs, rather than licensing the software itself.

Free software isn't socialism, it's the new capitalism. It's the small guy capitalism.

Re:Libertarian that likes free software (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847711)

Agreed. I think TFA is just another example of individuals who do not have a proper grasp of the technological world around them.

I generally regard them as I would anyone who speaks with authority about a topic of which they have no context... Mostly Useless.

Please Read My Blog (4, Insightful)

ddillman (267710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847247)

Is it just me, or is anyone else put off by people tooting their own horn by submitting their blog postings as stories? I mean, the guy seems to have something serious to say and seems readable, but geez, let someone else submit it to Slashdot, it doesn't look so much like self-serving aggrandizement or driving your page views up by slashdot effect...

Re:Please Read My Blog (1)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847335)

Your not the only one, I always nix personal blogs (and things of that nature) when I see them in the firehouse queue.

Re:Please Read My Blog (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847359)

Wait.... Where's the link to your blog again?

Re:Please Read My Blog (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847413)

A while back I tried to start a trend by tagging such stories with "pimpmyblog", but it never really caught on.

Re:Please Read My Blog (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847585)

It's called astroturfing, and it's annoying, and I don't do it. Either contribute to the site you're a member of, or don't. I fucking hate bloggers... ugh.

These are not libertarians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847259)

Note to editor: There are not libertarians.

Many libertarians hate IP and consider it a limit on human exchange. Seeing how they are free marketers, they see any exchange as better off without government controls, whether it be taxes, regulation, or IP law like patents or copyrights. Stephan Kinsella has written a great deal about this, as have Michele Boldrin and David Levine. If any libertarian is pro IP (these people are becoming more and more rare) then there are likely to be in favor of reducing copyright length and opening of the patent system open and reforming it to make it less prone to the current game of "gotcha, now I'm gonna sue" idiocy.

Re:These are not libertarians (1)

Murpster (1274988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847487)

Seriously... the fact that asshats like Glenn Beck have appropriated the word "libertarian" to describe paranoid (and often racist) morons who don't want to pay taxes doesn't make them actual libertarians. I suspect that most of the "libertarians" this article refers to are also against gay marriage, immigration, and legalizing drugs, hate the ACLU, and support domestic spying and Guantanamo torture camps. This article is shit.

Libertarians assume government the only evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847305)

My experience with Libertarians (with a capital "L") is that they generally equate less government with more freedom, while ignoring the fact that the problem is not government, but monopolies. Sometimes government acts as a monopoly. But sometimes government acts against other monopolies (cable companies, utilities, etc).

Why do Librarians hate America? (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847307)

Why do the nation's librarians have such an axe to grind?

Re:Why do Librarians hate America? (4, Funny)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847423)

I would suppose it is because of all the kids that come to the library with questions they want to axe.

Some interesting stuff but a lot of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847309)

First off is the conflation of Free Software and "Network Neutrality." In all its many meanings.

If you be for Free Software, you must be for "Network Neutrality." If you be against NN, you must be a corporate ass-kissing capitalist pigdog white person with a heatbeat racist.

I have these arguments with many of my progressive friends. I was a progressive. I am still a progressive. I have just become more cynical about the special interests groups that progressives support, which I find to be agents of failure and status quo.

I see progressive-supported government bureaucracies growing and soaking up resources like sponges without dripping out much of those resources to the causes they are supposed to support.

And mainly we are told the problem with these bureaucracies is that we just haven't given them enough money and power.

Many of us classic libs have the same doubts about giving the FCC more power over the Internet. We fear we will see licensing of website content and PC standards imposed and one-stop shopping for RIAA enforcement and more good-ole-boy corporatism before we ever see anything approaching neutrality.

What this has to do with Free Software, I don't know.
     

ESR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847317)

Isn't Eric S. Raymond - one of the early proponents of the Open Source movement - a Libertarian?

Re:ESR (1)

fatray (160258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847589)

Isn't Eric S. Raymond - one of the early proponents of the Open Source movement - a Libertarian?

I consider myself a libertarian and from what I know of ESR, I would consider him a libertarian. (small l libertarian--not members or followers of the Libertarian party)

I think that FOSS is in agreement with libertarian principles in that I created the software and I will dispose of it in the matter I choose, as GPLed FOSS or sold as closed source. That is my freedom. (I have produced both a FOSS application that is somewhat well used in its niche and closed source, proprietary software, when appropriate.)

I don't think that there are many libertarians that agree with Stallman that software must be Free.

True Libertarians... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847329)

Libertarians believe that the government should not interfere in the affairs of any person or institution unless and until the actions of that person or institution violate the rights of another.

The theory here is that when the government regulates what a free business (ISP) can do with it's own "tubes", the government is stepping over the line above.

Therefore, if you are a libertarian, you cannot, truly, believe in a GOVERNMENT impossed rule set for how ISPs govern their own businesses. You must say that the government should not be interferring at all, unless the ISP is violating some right that you have as the consumer (which you will not be able to show, because, unlike some places you have no "RIGHT" to the internet, AND you sign an agreement with the ISP giving up some of your other rights, willingly).

As much as I, the consumer, would love to have a net-neutrality situation, as a true libertarian, I would MUCH prefer the government stay out of it all together, therefore saving me tax money wasted on a fruitless endevour...

Be forced to be free? (2, Insightful)

martiniturbide (1203660) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847355)

The doubt that I always had is: It is good to force you to be free? (GNU GPL)? or is it better to have the freedom to decide to be free or not ?(FreeBSD)?

I'd just like to point out... (3, Insightful)

Thalaric (197339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847367)

Speaking as a registered libertarian, not everything in a capitalist system is done for profit (just ask the NRA or the EFF). And sometimes even innovation is done for innovation's sake.

Of course, that software is inherently "information" is what makes this work (avoiding the economic problem of scarcity). "Knowledge" doesn't cost anything to pass on. I think where those right(er) wing libertarians get their signals crossed. They assume that because we currently have an idea of "Intellectual Property" that it is in some way a fundamental freedom. Or that because we currently have corporations that can exist as entities they fundamentally are. These are just assumptions built into our system, not facts. I don't remember reading anything in Locke about intelectual property rights. And I don't see how giving software away for free is anti-capitalist.

Re:I'd just like to point out... (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847523)

> I don't remember reading anything in Locke about intelectual property rights.

Well, no, but in general, property rights are the libertarian answer to everything. So it would be surprising if they suddenly rejected propertization in favour of free access for anyone and everyone.

Or maybe it wouldn't. After all, the "libertarians" at the Heartland institute reject property rights as a solution to pollution problems - like many (most?) real-world libertarians, if the alternative would be upsetting the status quo power balance, they would rather not see a problem at all than propose a market-based solution to it.

An old Ronald Reagan quote is still true... (4, Insightful)

MetricT (128876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847381)

"An economist is someone who sees something that works in practice and wonders if it would work in theory."

I like libertarian philiosophy myself, but the nuts in the crowd can't understand that markets/politics is a synthesis of human psychology and behaviors perturbed by random events, and doesn't have some underlying grand unified theory like physics. Real life has, and always will be, a muddle.

Re:An old Ronald Reagan quote is still true... (2, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847663)

"An economist is someone who sees something that works in practice and wonders if it would work in theory."

I like libertarian philiosophy myself

That's amusing, given that libertarians hold precisely the opposite view, in that much like communists, they have a cool theory, and have this deluded notion that it would actually work in practice. It'd be funny, it if weren't for the fact that their bizarre notions have been used to drive economic policy...

when the corepirate nazi illuminati attacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847387)

it might be a good time to duck.

Free software is good, net nutrality not so much. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847425)

Of course free software is fine from a libertarian perspective. Net nutrality, on the other hand, is a set of government rules imposed on ISPs. Libertarians believe that the government should only protect your property, and net nutrality does not do that.

Libertarian Establishment (2, Insightful)

DZComposer (900090) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847439)

The reason behind this is simple: Libertarians (or at least the "think tank" Establishment branch of them) equate freedom with being able to make as much money for yourself as you can, and do with that money whatever you please.

The problem with FOSS in their eyes is that it prevents the proprietary software companies from making as much money as they want.

They don't want a "free market" in the classical sense. To them "free market" means "free to be anti-competitive and free from government safety/environmental regulations."

They only care about making money for themselves, and to hell with everyone else.

A true free-market economy is as much of a pipe dream as a true Communist one. Greed and lust for power corrupt both of these ideologies before they ever get fully established.

I'll grant that many rank-and-file Libertarians do not think this way, but the most vocal part of the Libertarian movement sure seems to.

Not terribly surprising... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847453)

While "Libertarian", in principle, comes down to a fairly tight set of notions about state noninterference, there are in practice a large number of ostensible "libertarians" that are pretty much strictly anti-regulation and pro-(specific)business, rather than libertarian as such.

Anyone who is against the activities of a group of volunteers, doing as they wish with the fruits of their labor, and offering goods under their chosen terms(Yes Virginia, the GPL is simply a voluntary private contract, not some conspiracy to oppress you) just because there isn't enough money and market-rhetoric involved is a damn shoddy libertarian. Of course, anyone who argues against the environmental regulations that prevent people from unilaterally poisoning my person and property is also a damn shoddy libertarian, and we have masses of those.

While certain flavors of market capitalism(and potentially even limited liability corporations) can be libertarian arrangements, anybody who mistakes supporting those for being a libertarian is, as they say, Doin' it Wrong.

Net neutrality is NOT FOSS! (3, Insightful)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847455)

Net neutrality uses government regulations to enforce policy on a network which is privately owned and leased. It is a violation of the property rights of the network owner. This is unrelated to, and separate from, FOSS, in which the ownership is provided freely (which has some different meanings given the particular license/copyright). Two different issues philosophically, and poorly understood in TFA.

Re:Net neutrality is NOT FOSS! (0, Troll)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847577)

Then why does every FO$$tard promote net neutrality?

Any true... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847507)

Any true libertarian recognizes that copyright is an artificial regulation produced by the government and therefore should be reduced to a minimum length (think 5-20 years or so), or abolished and the DMCA further reduces a free economy. If we have sane copyright, reduced patents (Again is government regulation of an economy), and less government involvement (so governments can't mandate closed standards) we essentially have the perfect system for free software. Propriatary software can still exist but it is checked by the fact that people can legally use it after a certain sane amount of time, little to no patents, the ability to decompile and redistribute modified sources would make it be a free economy for both authors of software and consumers. Think of it this way, we might have Windows 9X in the public domain by now, we can decompile it and use it as more or less of a backend for WINE to emulate Windows, while NT might not yet be in the public domain, a lot of legacy programs are still used, this would get us one step closer to a perfect Linux system.

Any libertarian who is against government intervention should be against copyright, and even though RMS might be against a state in which there is no or a very weak copyright, it is a plus for both free software and consumers.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe (1)

threaded (89367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847511)

Just because they call themselves libertarians on their website, doesn't actually make them libertarians.

Re:Ceci n'est pas une pipe (2, Funny)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847599)

No true Irishman would call them libertarians.

Re:Ceci n'est pas une pipe (1)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847661)

just because you call you FO$$ propaganda "freedom" does not make it such

Motivation (1)

raybob (203381) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847531)

Individuals still act out of self-interest even when contributing their time & energies to FOSS. The payoff can be ego gratification, skill enhancement, position in the community, etc. In other words, self interest doesn't have to mean capitalistic self-interest only.

Developing talent/skill is in furtherance of capitalism:

"Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason." -- Ayn Rand, from "Atlas shrugged"

Simple test (4, Insightful)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847563)

A simple test that I ask big-L Libertarians to engage in before I will discuss anything political with them on the internet:

Explain, in your own words, how the internet as it is presently could possibly have come to exist under a Libertarian political structure. In order to be taken seriously, Be sure to account for how we would have moved beyond the walled-garden networks of the late 80's early 90's, cite ARPAnet, and reference current backbone peering economics, including the recent maneuvering by Google which prompted the whole network neutrality debate in the first place.

Nobody's passed it yet.

Hearland isn't really libertarian (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847643)

Hearland isn't really libertarian, it just says the sort of things its corporate sponsors like to hear.

For instance, they denied any negative effects of second-hand smoking, and are at the forefront of AGW denial.

But then again, it seems most people who call themselves libertarian do that.

Par for the course (3, Insightful)

alanmusician (734071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847665)

While I tend toward moderate libertarian ideals myself, this is a great example of why I always end up feeling alienated from the party itself. They always end up harping on legalizing hard drugs, having your own private tank, or some other extremist nonsense, and when they're not doing that they're pulling stuff like this that isn't even in line with their supposed values. There are some brilliant men in the party, but they usually end up taking a back seat to the louder-speaking loonies.

old customs die hard (3, Insightful)

grrrgrrr (945173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847669)

I thought libertarian and free-market organizations would have disbanded by now because of the bank deregulation and economic catastrophe. These opinions seem a bit dated and a bit out of touch today. But I guess there are all kinds of old fashioned ideologies still around like religions but do we really care about what they think of free software? So why do we care here?

Lakely is not "Libertarians" (0, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847671)

OP gives exactly one example, then sees fit to try to drag all Libertarians into this category. Bad, bad OP.

Lakely is obviously ignorant of what most "free" (open source) software is all about, and he has just as obviously been influenced by the more radical free software advocates like Stallman.

But one misguided person is not all Libertarians. Most Libertarians I know are fine with Free and Open Source Software, and in fact some of them actively participate in developing for it. I think OP should retract his over-broad and unfounded generalization, and perhaps even apologize to Libertarians.

As a life-long Libertarian, let me just say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847693)

As a life-long Libertarian, let me just say we've been shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot ever since running Bob ("I'm not a drug-warrior anymore, really!") Barr for President.

But I'm not bitter or anything.

The problem is that the GPL imposes obligations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29847701)

The GPL has a place in some shared infrastructure, but the newest rev (gplv3) was a complete failure. It tried to dictate what developers could do with their own creations. No surprise that the GPLv3 was rejected by the marketplace. All this talk about the rights of users of software without addressing those doing the work or paying the bills is doomed to irrelevance.

What we need is a fork of GPLv2 without the patent language and the exceptions stuff that allows it to become a badgeware license.

Quite a troll by Tim B. Lee (2, Insightful)

daemonenwind (178848) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847707)

If you look under the covers, every article quoted by the blog post presented talk about linux in terms of POLICY DECISIONS by GOVERNMENT ENTITIES.

When Munich went Linux, it made some open source folks realize that, if Linux had a hard road getting adoption by the likes of Dell and HP, then they could go the Apple route and be a government mandate (think schools)

And so people began lobbying to get laws passed mandating the use of open-source tools by various government bodies.

For example, in one of the articles (Open Source Socialism by Sonia Arrison) Lee quotes:

But the pressing question is not whether open source can make its creators money, or its purported advantages over proprietary software. The current issue is whether government should be used to force an increase in open source deployment. A good deal of the frenzy is a reaction to the success of Microsoft. ....(my snip)....

Microsoft has market power because it creates products that satisfy technology needs at the right price. If the open source community's products better satisfy those needs at a better price, then it shouldn't be necessary to legislate the use of open source in government departments, as some California activists suggested in August. It also shouldn't be necessary to legislate smaller items like the exact parts of a state's information technology (IT) infrastructure that must remain open, as Perens wants to do.

If a government agency chooses to use an open or mixed system for efficiency and cost reasons, that is fine. But forcing the taxpayer's IT budget to favor one type of system over another for purely political reasons is wrong and antithetical to the spirit of the open source community.

This is the primary concern of the libertarians - that choice is not mandated by legislative fiat. We should let the experts employed by the states decide what they'll run.

I expect most folks reading Slashdot would feel the same way, in their own job.

Lakely is confused... (1)

bug (8519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29847729)

Libertarians are generally against government intervention and manipulation of the free market economy. What could be more manipulative than the coercive force of the federal government, providing government-sanctioned monopolies in the forms of patents and copyrights to rent-seeking entrenched industries? Those monopolies arbitrarily increase the costs of goods and services to individuals and other businesses, and they also have the strong potential of interfering with our constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech. Assuming they support "intellectual property" at all, most libertarians would require very high standards of proof of innovativeness before passing out such power, and would limit their scope and duration to the bare minimum "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," as stated in our Constitution.
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