Another of those tricky little things, full of words, that Adam clearly hasn’t read yet. But he wants us to, so I thought I’d oblige the little bugger.
It’s not clear to me, given his table manners etc, why anybody would invite Stallman to give a speech in person. Surely it would be better value all round if you just bung him $2000 plus costs and ask him to send you a video and stay the hell away from normal people. Why, you could even share and reuse and alter the video, in line with the Four Freedoms (which theoretically this particular “philosophy” post is all about). I mean, sharing and reusing and disassembling Stallman himself is … well … distasteful at the very least. And disgusting at the worst.
The stench, my dear! The moral stench!
Of course, you’d have to find a Free and Open Videoconferencing system, so I suppose that’s out.
Now, before going on to highlight the lowlights, as it were, I’d like you to ask yourself a simple question. If you invite a smelly old hippie half way around the world to give you a keynote speech (or whatever), do you really want him making lame punning jokes at your expense? Because that’s how Richard eases himself in. It’s almost worse than that horrible singing episode of a few years back.
But not quite.
However, it’s unrelated to the fanatical, dissembling, lunacy. Here are a few samples of that.
Proprietary software keeps the users divided and helpless.
That would explain all those hopeless serfs that use Word and Excel (and Google Docs, for that matter) to get work done and to share and help each other, wouldn’t it?
In RMS’s current software world, which basically goes no further than wget with an emacs front-end, the user is little more than a mewling baby with beard-nits and toe-jam. Big improvement, that.
But any proprietary software gives the developers unjust power over the users.
Not it doesn’t. It’s (inevitably) a circular argument to call it “unjust,” let alone “power.” I haven’t met a single developer yet who considers himself to have power of any kind over users — quite the reverse, in fact.
So the question can be restated: “What should copyright law allow you to do with published works? What should copyright law say?”
Or you could just dismiss the question as raving self-defined obsessional lunacy in the first place.
But, OK, let’s sit down with Mother and listen to how copyright affects absolutely everything else as well as software. After all, RMS is an acknowledged software expert. It follows that he must be an expert on absolutely everything else.
Copyright has developed along with copying technology
Ooh, a single clause in and he’s already wrong. Copyright and copying technology have coexisted over the centuries. They have not developed in lockstep, as he would have you believe.
Here’s his take on Gutenberg:
the printing press and the type were expensive equipment that most people didn’t own; and the ability to use them, most literate people didn’t know. Using a press was a different skill from writing. The result was a centralized manner of producing copies: the copies of any given book would be made in a few places, and then they would be transported to wherever someone wanted to buy copies.
Leave out the “expensive equipment” bit (which incidentally would have applied to absolutely everything that Richard touched in the MIT labs of the 1960s — up to and including the coffee machine), and that sounds just like software, doesn’t it?
So Richard wants to have his cake and eat it. We are far advanced from Gutenberg, yet we are, er, actually at the same stage. (Which would imply by his lights that copyright makes sense … to him, at least.)
I’m going to leave the idiot analysis of copyright in English History, as ignorantly drawn from Wikipedia, to somebody else. Mr Monco appears to be well versed in this area. RMS appears to be more like half-arsed doggerel.
It [copyright] was easy to enforce, because it only had to be enforced against publishers. And it’s easy to find the unauthorized publishers of a book—you go to a bookstore and say “where do these copies come from?”. You don’t have to invade everybody’s home and everybody’s computer to do that.
Well, they didn’t have computers in Charles Dickens’ time, so I suppose the Loon is right in a way. But if you asked Dickens about the rest of it (circa 1860), he’d laugh in your face. (Apologies for the visual image of one bearded loon laughing in another bearded loon’s face.) Do you know why Dickens toured America? It was because there wasn’t any enforceable copyright for British works there; in fact, I’m pretty certain there wasn’t any copyright at all. The only way he could make money was to tour. Dickens’ literary tours of America served almost exactly the same purpose as DRM and the like does today.
So if this were still in the age of the printing press, I don’t think I’d be complaining about copyright law.
It’s like Christmas Panto, isn’t it? Oh yes you would, Richard, oh yes you would. In any case, wasn’t this all supposed to be about Principles? Why should messy sordid reality affect your Principles? I mean, it never does in any other respect, does it?
And I’m about a third of the way down, and so on and so on. I think Richard is getting senile in his old age. Some of this stuff is just plain gibberish: the Shakespeare riff, Walt Disney, two adorable puppies with thirty two hexadecimal characters superimposed ... I mean, the Loon is Losing It.
It’s very sad, really.
And what’s really sad is that the word “community” is mentioned only five times (you are welcome to check this). Once in the title. Once by the Emcee. Once in the Four Freedoms. Once immediately after the Four Freedoms. And once more in terms of the “software community.”
Get a life, you hopeless old hobo.
 I’m not making this up. I only wish I were. It’s part of an extensive, yet totally unintelligble, schtick concerning how Richard took on DRM encryption and won goddamnit … but obviously only with the help of those two adorable puppies and thirty two hexadecimal characters (I hope their hexadecimal mummies vouched for them). And after all, a Puppy is Not Just For Christmas.
It is Also a Mis-Spelled Parrot.