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GNU is Not Unix

Nick Moffitt Interview 146

Swedish hacker-wannabee writes "Nick Moffitt is in an interesting interview at Gnuheter. Moffitt: 'I want to see a future where when I buy something, I own it. I don't want corporations and governments telling me how I may or may not use my own private property in my own home or among my friends. I want the ability to take apart my toaster or my alarm clock and see how they work, or combine them into something new. I don't think this future is possible without some serious effort on the part of hackers.'"
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Nick Moffitt Interview

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  • by Chuut-Riit ( 48419 ) on Friday July 19, 2002 @02:12PM (#3918045) Homepage
    Moffitt's concern is legitimate. Patent owners sometimes attempt (with varying degrees of success) to restrict the ability of purchasers of products covered by the patent claims to use/modify/dispose of the products that have been purchased.

    For example, there is something called the "doctrine of permissible repair", which I believe attempts to draw a line between a purchaser's repair of a patented device, and the unauthorized "making" of the device (and resulting patent infringement).

    There is also a case where Company A sold a nebulizer (a device for administering medication in aerosolized form) with an imprint "for single use only". Company B began a business of refurbishing the nebulizers (stripping off unsterilizable parts, sterilizing the rest, and adding replacement parts) that allowed hospitals to reuse the devices at a fraction of the cost. Company A sued Company B for patent infringement and won.
  • by extrasolar ( 28341 ) on Friday July 19, 2002 @03:52PM (#3918785) Homepage Journal

    I don't know how you got moderated up. Perhaps this misconception is more prevalent than I thought.

    If I actually buy a copy of Linux I can tear it apart and modify it, but I don't have the rights to simply resell my new creation.

    If you are speaking about the GNU GPL, lets take a look at a part of the actual license:

    The actual license: []

    1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

    You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

    (emphasis is mine)

    Let me hit you over the head with it one more time. You can sell GPLed software for any cost you like, any cost that you think the market will allow.

    The difference is that you don't get any exclusive right to the software. And that is what the Free Software Foundation means by freedom. That everyone who gets a copy of the software gets the right to copy, modify, redistribute, and even sell the software. These rights shouldn't be exclusive.

    I have to essentially provide a free copy of my changes in raw form to Big Brother and everyone else in order to do that.

    This is also wrong, simply with the quote from the GNU GPL above. The word "may" is important, it means you have the freedom to "may" or "may not" distribute the software. That means, I can't tell you to give me a copy of your GPLed web browser off your computer, even if you modified it. Its called privacy.

    In fact, no respect for privacy was one of the original reasons the FSF considered the original version of the APSL as non-free.

    From []

    After studying Apple's new source code license, the APSL, I have concluded that it falls short of being a free software license. It has three fatal flaws, any of which would be sufficient to make the software less than free.

    Disrespect for privacy

    The APSL does not allow you to make a modified version and use it for your own private purposes, without publishing your changes.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith