The Invisible Hand

Matthew C. Weigel weigel+ at
Tue Oct 2 00:00:14 UTC 2001

On Mon, 1 Oct 2001, Russell Nelson wrote:

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

On ethical grounds- it is not an effect, an incidence, of freedom, that
I value.

>  > I don't agree.  I think that there are problems with it.
> Like what?

The publishing clause.  I believe I've been complaining about this
since the original APSL.

>  > > 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.

You are, of course, allowed an opinion.  That was a dig in anger,
because I felt you were digging at me for the possibly *single* time I
didn't delineate "FSF free software" in the post to which you

Nonetheless, you provide no reason to *not* listen to RMS over

>  > > 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.

By 'this' I meant "but require[s] them to give up other types of
privacy."  Which is to say, it's not RMS's opinions, but *yours*, that
I'd like to hear in more detail.

> 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.

Ah yes, there's that distribute word again.  It's the foundation of the

> 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.

That is one workaround for *one kind* of privacy problem.  What if you
want to keep the modifications *themselves* private, never distributing
them?  The GPL, the most restrictive free software license, allows
this.  It is my opinion that this should be included in the OSD.

> 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.

Russ, unless you are interested in reading, and responding to, my own
response to your accusations, please do not make them.

You have already demonstrated your opinion that, in order to *not* be a
whiner, I must show that my interest ALL ALONG was in changing the OSI
- in short, that I was whining to affect change - and that if I
continue to hold the opinion I stated, that I *am* a whiner.
Consequently, I would rather not play by your definition of "whiner."
 Matthew Weigel
 Research Systems Programmer
 mcweigel at ne weigel at

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