Metaprogramming and Free Availability of Sources
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 16:17:58 -0700 (PDT)

>     >I wish that were so, but we already have problems with binary-only
>     >software that works with GNU/Linux.  For example, there are non-free
>     >device drivers and non-free X servers.
>     if they're non-free, then maybe eliminating copyright would solve the
>     problem... or did you mean they just didn't come with source code
>     by "non-free"? 
> These drivers are released as just binaries.  The hardware companies
> are keeping the specs of the hardware secret.  One might hope to see
> consumer pressure put an end to that practice, but it is not happening
> soon, because we don't put on firm enough pressure.  Too many people
> are ready to give up a freedom for a short-term convenience.

hmm... well, why do they keep the specs secret? i'm not sure, but i
would guess that it'd be so that they could have a monopoly selling
software that uses their hardware.  but, if copyrights were eliminated,
anyone could copy their software, so there'd be no motivation to
try to keep it secret.  the only exception i can see again is if they
write specialized software for people, in which case maintaining their
monopoly would still be beneficial for them. ideally, even this problem would
be solved by consumers boycotting the monopolist; this would not
really take selflessness on the consumers' parts because if they
are smart they'll forsee the difficulty of finding software for the
monopolist's hardware. 

> So if we want to have freedom, we need to have something stronger to
> rely on.  Relying on other people to value their freedom above
> their convenience is not realistic.

On the other hand, may i suggest that convincing government officials
to pass must-come-with-source-code laws is even less realistic. Relying
on them to enforce them well without entangling them with special
interests is even less realistic.

Of course, just because something is not realistic doesn't mean we
shouldn't aim for it; but it still seems to me like eliminating copyrights
and patents (but without imposing must-come-with-source-code laws) would
solve most of the problems you've mentioned. 

>     well... again, you can always choose to get programs that come with source
>     code (or make your own :-)). 
> No, you can't always.  Often a non-free program is the only one.  When
> it comes to drivers, it is hard to write a free program if you can't
> get the specs.

that's true, but you do have the choice of other hardware that does
come with specs.

respectfully ...

- iepos