[pp.int.general] Fwd: <nettime> Richard Stallman: How the Swedish Pirate Party Platform Backfires on Free Software

Enrique Herrera Noya quiquetux at gmail.com
Wed Jul 29 15:53:05 CEST 2009

> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/pirate-party.html
> The bullying of the copyright industry in Sweden inspired the launch of the
> first political party whose platform is to reduce copyright restrictions:
> the Pirate Party. Its platform includes the prohibition of Digital
> Restrictions Management, legalization of noncommercial sharing of published
> works, and shortening of copyright for commercial use to a five-year
> period. Five years after publication, any published work would go into the
> public domain.

RMS said that it would support if after those 5 years there continued
to proprietary software ... if we do not do something, to stop using.

also 5 years in software is much, so in 5 years may be outdated code,
as used for example 2.0 or 2.1 kernel?

> I support these changes, in general; but the specific combination chosen by
> the Swedish Pirate Party backfires ironically in the special case of free
> software. I'm sure that they did not intend to hurt free software, but
> that's what would happen.
> The GNU General Public License and other copyleft licenses use copyright
> law to defend freedom for every user. The GPL permits everyone to publish
> modified works, but only under the same license. Redistribution of the
> unmodified work must also preserve the license. And all redistributors must
> give users access to the software's source code.
> How would the Swedish Pirate Party's platform affect copylefted free
> software? After five years, its source code would go into the public
> domain, and proprietary software developers would be able to include it in
> their programs. But what about the reverse case?
> Proprietary software is restricted by EULAs, not just by copyright, and the
> users don't have the source code. Even if copyright permits noncommercial
> sharing, the EULA may forbid it. In addition, the users, not having the
> source code, do not control what the program does when they run it. To run
> such a program is to surrender your freedom and give the developer control
> over you.
> So what would be the effect of terminating this program's copyright after 5
> years? This would not require the developer to release source code, and
> presumably most will never do so. Users, still denied the source code,
> would still be unable to use the program in freedom. The program could even
> have a “time bomb” in it to make it stop working after 5 years, in which
> case the “public domain” copies would not run at all.
> Thus, the Pirate Party's proposal would give proprietary software
> developers the use of GPL-covered source code after 5 years, but it would
> not give free software developers the use of proprietary source code, not
> after 5 years or even 50 years. The Free World would get the bad, but not
> the good. The difference between source code and object code and the
> practice of using EULAs would give proprietary software an effective
> exception from the general rule of 5-year copyright — one that free
> software does not share.
> We also use copyright to partially deflect the danger of software patents.
> We cannot make our programs safe from them — no program is ever safe from
> software patents in a country which allows them — but at least we prevent
> them from being used to make the program effectively non-free. The Swedish
> Pirate Party proposes to abolish software patents, and if that is done,
> this issue would go away. But until that is achieved, we must not lose our
> only defense for protection from patents.
> Once the Swedish Pirate Party had announced its platform, free software
> developers noticed this effect and began proposing a special rule for free
> software: to make copyright last longer for free software, so that it can
> continue to be copylefted. This explicit exception for free software would
> counterbalance the effective exception for proprietary software. Even ten
> years ought to be enough, I think. However, the proposal met with
> resistance from the Pirate Party's leaders, who objected to the idea of a
> longer copyright for a special case.
> I could support a law that would make GPL-covered software's source code
> available in the public domain after 5 years, provided it has the same
> effect on proprietary software's source code. After all, copyleft is a
> means to an end (users' freedom), not an end in itself. And I'd rather not
> be an advocate for a stronger copyright.
> So I proposed that the Pirate Party platform require proprietary software's
> source code to be put in escrow when the binaries are released. The
> escrowed source code would then be released in the public domain after 5
> years. Rather than making free software an official exception to the 5-year
> copyright rule, this would eliminate proprietary software's unofficial
> exception. Either way, the result is fair.
> A Pirate Party supporter proposed a more general variant of the first
> suggestion: a general scheme to make copyright last longer as the public is
> granted more freedoms in using the work. The advantage of this is that free
> software becomes part of a general pattern of varying copyright term,
> rather than a lone exception.
> I'd prefer the escrow solution, but any of these methods would avoid a
> prejudicial effect specifically against free software. There may be other
> solutions that would also do the job. One way or another, the Pirate Party
> of Sweden should avoid placing a handicap on a movement to defend the
> public from marauding giants.
> Updated: $Date: 2009/07/26 09:42:52 $
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grandes retribuciones, de eso se trata la nobleza"

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