The Invisible Hand

Russell Nelson nelson at
Mon Oct 1 20:27:10 UTC 2001

Matthew C. Weigel writes:
 > More appropriate on technical and pragmatic grounds, if I've read the
 > essays right :)

If you don't value freedom for its effects (admittedly a pragmatic
argument), why do you value it?

 > > There's another possibility: that RMS pulled his objection to the
 > > APSL out of thin air, and that it doesn't have anything to do with
 > > free software.
 > I don't agree.  I think that there are problems with it.

Like what?

 > > See, the problem here is that in order to be truthful, you have to say
 > > "free software licenses according to the FSF".

 > I'm sorry, I  thought I was perfectly clear in delineating open source
 > as according to the OSI, and free software as according to the FSF.
 > I suppose the OSI is now a better judge of free software?

I don't see why we cannot be allowed to have an opinion, given that
RMS's opinion of free software is just that -- his opinion.

 > > And that means "what RMS thinks." I think there is more to "free
 > > software" than what RMS says, particularly when RMS says that "free
 > > software" imposes a requirement to allow users to retain certain
 > > specific types of privacy, but require them to give up other types of
 > > privacy.
 > I'd be interested in hearing about this (possibly privately).

No need for that.  RMS is up-front about his objection to the APSL.
It is not for any restrictions on the distribution of the software,
but instead for the requirement to publish the source code to deployed
modifications.  Note that the APSL is not talking about private
modifications, but instead modifications which have been distributed
within an enterprise.

This is not a free software issue.  It is a privacy issue.  It's even
easily worked around.  If you want to keep secret the fact that you
are using a modified version of a piece of APSL software, you pay
somebody else to modify it, publish their use of it, and publish the
code itself.  The secret-keeper can then use the published modified
code with no requirement to publish their use of it, because *they*
have not modified it.

 > > I've tried to talk to RMS about this, but he dismisses my objections
 > > as frivolous.
 > Interesting.  My experience has been that RMS responds to criticism
 > with an open mind, an interest in resolving conflicts, and a speed not
 > seen in other fora.  He has taken my criticisms to heart, and never
 > felt the need to call me a whiner.

Sorry, Matthew, but people who say "At this point, I think the OSI
needs to apologize to the wider community for wasting everyone's time,
say that the FSF adequately represents the community, and dissolve."
without first offering to help are whiners.  The purpose of whining is
to get someone to do something not by offering to help, but instead by
being so irritating that it becomes easier to do the thing than not.

Or were you being irritating by accident?  If that's the case, I will
gladly accept your apology, and apologize for calling you a whiner in

There's a Quaker principle that, if you have a problem with somebody,
you take it to them directly.  You don't go to someone else who has
power over the person, and ask for correction.  So if you have a
problem with what OSI is doing or failing to do, you should take it to
us, and not make grand pronouncements about how OSI shouldn't exist.

-russ nelson <sig at>
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