Articles: Want to retain copyright? Author Free Software!
russell at flora.ca
Tue Apr 30 23:00:31 EDT 2002
Added a few new articles to my site today:
Want to retain copyright? Author Free Software!
In a letter written by a Microsoft representative to the Congress of
the Republic of Peru, a number of mis-truths, misdirections and
misconceptions were presented by Microsoft. The most invalid was the
suggestion that with Open Source and Free Software, software
programmers lose their copyright and their main source of payment.
I argue that this is not only not true for Free Software, but is
actually more true for proprietary software.
With Free Software, independent developers apply their copyright to
the software and retain all moral rights, such as the ability to be
associated and recognized as a contributing author of that software.
In order to protect the competitiveness of this marketplace, and thus
their own ability to potentially compete as an independent software
creator, they release the monopoly rights associated with copyright.
With the vast majority of proprietary software, the copyright is held
by the "software manufacturer". The individual software developers get
paid as "work for hire", and receive no copyright at all. With all
moral rights lost, the ability to prove merit to future employers or
clients is diminished and thus also is diminished their main lever for
advancement in their field.
The benefits of software manufacturing to the owners of the largest
companies is clear: it creates a captive audience for both creators
and end-users, removing the benefits of an otherwise competitive
The benefits to software authors and customers of Free Software based
software services is much easier to make. The word "free" in Free
Software is the same usage of the word "free" as in Free Market
competition, and the benefits of free markets to both producers and
consumers are well known. The only organizations that are harmed by
free markets are monopolies and cartels, and these organizations are
themselves harm to a free market economy.
I have often argued that what is good for "the middle man" (the
publishers, software manufacturers, distributors) is not good for the
software developers (or other creators of copyright works) or their
users (or other customers, audiences).
In the english translation of a reply to Microsoft from a Congressman
of the Republic of Peru, the following relevant section clarifies
You continue by observing that: "10. The bill demotivates the
creativity of the peruvian software industry, which invoices 40
million US$/year, exports 4 million US$ (10th in ranking among
non-traditional exports, more than handicrafts) and is a source of
highly qualified employment. With a law that incentivates the use
of open source, software programmers lose their intellectual
property rights and their main source of payment."
It is clear enough that nobody is forced to commercialize their
code as free software. The only thing to take into account is that
if it is not free software, it cannot be sold to the public sector.
This is not in any case the main market for the national software
industry. We covered some questions referring to the influence of
the Bill on the generation of employment which would be both highly
technically qualified and in better conditions for competition
above, so it seems unnecessary to insist on this point.
What follows in your statement is incorrect. On the one hand, no
author of free software loses his intellectual property rights,
unless he expressly wishes to place his work in the public domain.
The free software movement has always been very respectful of
intellectual property, and has generated widespread public
recognition of authors. Names like those of Richard Stallman, Linus
Torvalds, Guido van Rossum, Larry Wall, Miguel de Icaza, Andrew
Tridgell, Theo de Raadt, Andrea Arcangeli, Bruce Perens, Darren
Reed, Alan Cox, Eric Raymond, and many others, are recognized
world-wide for their contributions to the development of software
that is used today by millions of people throughout the world. On
the other hand, to say that the rewards for authors rights make up
the main source of payment of Peruvian programmers is in any case a
guess, in particular since there is no proof to this effect, nor a
demonstration of how the use of free software by the State would
influence these payments.
This article comes from FLORA.ca
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
See http://weblog.flora.ca/ for announcements, activities, and opinions
Read the speech on copyright made in 1841 by Thomas Babbington Macaulay -
a must-read for creators -even predicted the consumer reaction to Napster
For (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and
links to other related sites please see http://www.flora.org/dmca/
More information about the Discuss