Metaprogramming and Free Availability of Sources

Alaric Williams
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 18:36:50 +0100 (BST)

> I'd like to differ slightly.
> I think there is an absolute natural right to freely use, copy, and modify
> any information that one has for any of one's legitimate purposes
> (if used with an illegitimate purpose, the attempt to fulfill this purpose,
> and not the means of using information, should be punished).
> This right is of the universal kind that constitutions should recognize.

Quite... the only way to keep stuff private should be through your own
efforts, rather than through trusting some external party to protect you.
Look at how decent computer security systems work - SSH, for example,
places *no* trust in the network it's running over, and encrypts
everything, just in case.

> The ability to keep things secrets is nonetheless
> as fundamental a right of human beings
> as that of using, modifying and republishing information they have.
> Recognition of this fundamental ability precedes
> the very notion of encouraging publishing of information,
> be it by means of either protection or liberty.

Yes... see, a project I worked on (you can see my
name in About Us! :-). We're fighting against government key escrow in the
UK. When the fight is over, we'll tidy up the source code for our Internet
lobbying system and hopefully open source it for other people's campaigns.

> I'm convinced that making NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) as illegal
> as other contracts whereby people agree to drop fundamental rights
> will be enough to preserve basic human rights regarding information,
> and that market pressure will force most people to publish their source code.

Hmm... that depends on the NDA. NDAs about the innards of hardware that
prevent people from writing open source drivers are definitely bad, but
the company I work for starts many interesting and innovative projects by
entering discussions under NDA with other companies that could take part;
the NDA is simply there to protect the idea before it goes into
production, at which point the NDA "wears off". All the NDAs have expiry
dates on them. Perhaps a law preventing any NDA from lasting more than 6

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              They flutter behind you, your possible pasts;
          Some bright-eyed and crazy, some frightened and lost

                                         - Pink Floyd, The Final Cut

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