The Invisible Hand

Russell Nelson nelson at
Thu Oct 4 20:36:23 UTC 2001

Matthew C. Weigel writes:
 > 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.

Okay, then I hereby pronounce you free.  You now have freedom, in all
regards and aspects of your life.  Go forth and do no harm, my son.

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

Why does the publishing clause affect your freedom?  It imposes no
constraints on your behavior.  It imposes a requirement, true, but it
does not stop you from any activity.

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

But you *did* say "free software licenses according to the FSF".  But
that's precisely what I was objecting to -- your implication that the
FSF defines "free software" and that nobody else's opinion matters.

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

Because privacy in this case is merely a cost, and not an actual
imposition on your privacy?

Look at the GPL's requirement for three-year's distribution of the
source code.  That's a constraint, and a cost.  Doesn't stop you from
distributing any code, but it makes it less convenient.  Oh well.
Neither does the APSL's publishing requirement.

 > >  > > 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).

What if your code is crappy, or written in an ideomatic manner to
which people instantly object (not an invented problem)?  You'd like
to keep that private, if you could.  But if you are subject to the
GPL, your privacy is violated.

 > > 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.

Opine away, but it isn't there, and wasn't there when we approved the
APSL.  Again, we are not the FSF.  We don't have a charismatic founder 
whose word is law.  We have a written definition of Open Source which
we must stick by.  We are subject to the Rule of Law.  RMS is a

If we're to reject a license, it MUST be for something in the OSD.  If 
you want to create new reasons for rejecting licenses (e.g. privacy
protection against required publication), then you are proposing a
change in the OSD.  And if you think we don't do that, then you should 
check the changelog at .

 > > 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.

I'll accuse you of any damn thing I feel you're guilty of.  And if I'm
wrong, I'll apologize for it, too.  Abjectly, if necessary.  But in
*general* in the open source / free software / whatever world,
contributions are gladly entertained, suggestions carefully
considered, and demands haughtily dismissed.  Consider yourself
dismissed (when you say "OSI needs to apologize....").

Are you ever going to evaluate the three current licenses or are you
going to wh*n* some more?

-russ nelson <sig at>
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | It's a crime, not an act
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | of war.  For my take, see:
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