[Chugalug] Richard Stallman and open source

DaWorm daworm at gmail.com
Sat Dec 15 01:13:30 UTC 2012

On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 7:17 PM, Stephen Kraus <ub3ratl4sf00 at gmail.com>wrote:

> I don't think making money off your code will ever be an issue, companies
> hire you to program, what code you use to do it is less of there concern
> beyond maybe which language you use.

I write embedded systems code.  I control hardware via software, and the
hardware is trivial to copy.  While my company might continue to sell that
hardware even if my software were to be free to the world, for a little
while, it wouldn't be long before someone else would copy the whole lot and
go into competition with us.  RMS thinks that's a grand idea.  When some
Chinese knockoff made by nearly slave labor undercuts our prices by 50%
though, it won't be long before I'm out of a job.  They spent a couple of
days copying the PCB, an hour or so figuring out how to compile my code,
and !bam! they're in business.  So the months, and sometimes years it has
taken me to develop a product is now copied in a matter of days.  I'm
sorry, that's not the kind of world that rewards innovation.

We all know its a fools errand to ask programmers to work for free, but
> Stallman has a point: Companies shouldn't be allowed to copyright
> individual bits of codes, a whole program? Sure, but copyrighting
> individual lines and statements is like copyrighting the English language
> sentence by sentence.

If I come up with a sort routine that is a thousand times faster than any
other out there, I (or my employer) darn well better be able to copyright
that, and not just the whole program that makes use of it.  However, it
usually isn't copyright that provides that protection, it is patents.  And
software patents are a whole 'nother kettle of fish.  I would agree that
all the bullshit about copyrighting "look and feel" needs to go.  But truly
novel algorithms and methodologies deserve some form of protection.  The
problem lately is the definition of "novel" has gotten pretty sloppy.

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