Iiin the Red corner, weighing in at one hundred and forty five pounds - all of it beard, the famous, the redoubted the radical - Riiichard Stallman! Aaand in the blue corner, the reigning champion, the long emplaced mindset - you know it, we know it and almost everyone loves it...
My Server. My Rules.
Where do you go when two fundamental beliefs you hold clash? Especially when both refuse any compromises? Personally, holding multiple conflicting viewpoints on a subject at the same time isn't a problem. I don't hold on to this fallacy that 'A is right implies that (for all x, x is not A implies x is wrong)'
But then, I'm completely insane. So - what do YOU do?
The Issues. Red corner
People should be free to do things.
Well, that's the sumnation. Let's let the guy speak in his own words.
The spirit of the Bitkeeper license is the spirit of the whip hand. It is the spirit that says, "You have no right to use Bitkeeper, only temporary privileges that we can revoke. Be grateful that we allow you to use Bitkeeper. Be grateful, and don't do anything we dislike, or we may revoke those privileges." It is the spirit of proprietary software. Every non-free license is designed to control the users more or less. Outrage at this spirit is the reason for the free software movement. (By contrast, the open source movement prefers to play down this same outrage.)
What he wants is for everything everyone produces to be placed into the commons, so that everyone can take full advantage of it. He is in favour only of restrictive measures when they are needed to keep that free movement of 'stuff' going. (For example, the gpl is sometimes needed because it stops someone from NOT contributing)
And I agree with all of this. If you produce anything, you should give it to everyone so that they can then produce more stuff. It would be NICE to get your daily bread somehow, but there's no reason to link the two endeavours. If your creative drive is fed for free and you feed others for free - where's the problem? The fact that this same logic doesn't apply to vegetables is a non-issue.
There we go. In the simplest terms "You should make your stuff free for other people to use". And in an ideal world everyone would, but this isn't ideal so we're gonna put some rules up to say other people have to as well.
The Issues. Blue Corner
Play nice, or get out. Let's look at how morat phrased it:
You, as a client on the Morat IRC Network, have NO rights
whatsoever. Using the Network is not a right, it is a privilege. This
privilege may be removed at any time by our operators.
Pretty much 180 degrees away, isn't it?
The justification for this view is simple. I am providing you a service - in this case catnews. I am putting some simple rules on you if you want to read catnews (no stealing it and claiming it as your own) - and if you don't like those rules, then you can get lost and I hope I never see you again. I am taking away no freedoms - since you can always choose to, you know, not read catnews. Or to go and write a catnews of your own.
So - what do we do?
Well - option one is to simply fall back to overzealous 'everyone is free' mode. Turn the other cheek. Let haxors and llamas overrun your irc server. Accept that they have the right to be listened to and drive away visitors. Humm. Maybe not so good.
Option two is to fall back to a police state. You have the right to breathe. Now you don't. Now you do again. Here, think this... Let's stay away from that, shall we?
Option three... here option three... nice option three, come out... we won't eat you.
Oh damn. It's hiding under the sideboard again.
Here's an idea. Why don't we stop looking at oversimplified views of reality and acknowledge that there is no 'one size fits all' solution to everything? I know it goes against your oversimplified ape minds and your analytical thinking engines both but hey, give it a try?
The important differentiation is between 'should' and 'will' - or perhaps even between 'vous' (you *plural*, damn english) and 'I'
The importance of an action depends upon how many people are affected by it. If I wish to run my own irc server, and only myself and a few others are allowed on it, then I am surely allowed to.
But once a service becomes vital - once the whole of the commons is using it - then I cannot be allowed to simply take it away. If I didn't want it to fall into community ownership, then I shouldn't have allowed it to fall into community usage. Pretty simple.
This all mirrors the common sense rules for keeping a community alive. You have to acknowledge that once the majority of people believe that they have (or even should have) a say in running things, then they do. If you don't want that, then don't let them use your stuff in the first place.
Let's KISS here:
Just because something is your exclusive property today, does not mean that it is your property tomorrow.
Right - let's go the other way. Not everything is in the commons. Nor must everything be. People like to keep secrets, after all. People are going to have to live with the fact that not everyone will want to share their toys. That's fine. Let them play on their commons, you play on yours.
Now, RMS is speaking from the pov of an evangelist. He wants everyone to share everything, and in that case people must examine their every action to see how it furthers that aim. And that's fine. But don't lose sight of a few simple rules.
In some circumstances - this is my world, and these are my rules. Live with them or leave.
That only stops being true when there is nowhere else to go.