Rusty Russell has this brilliant piece on how copyright is a penalty system, not a reward system:
The first poorly understood point is that copyright on my work does not give me the right to copy it. It prevents everyone else from copying: a so-called “negative right”. As an example, if you own the last copy of my autobiography, I don’t have the right to make a copy: it’s your property. You don’t either: it’s my copyright. If you destroy that last copy, my copyright still exists, but is useless. This illuminates something noone ever spelt out for me: that copyright is a weakening of property law. Normally when you buy something, you get all the rights the previous owner had: if you buy apples off me and sell apple juice in competition with me, I have no legal recourse. Copyright weakens property law by not transferring the “right to copy” with sale: that sliver of rights is removed from every copy and remains in the hands of the copyright holder.
Even if copyright disappears, property rights don’t:
The traditional focus on copyright, without considering the property which is its source, skews the copyright debate quite badly. Works which are no longer copyrighted are often said to “fall into the public domain”. This is a terrible phrase, which implies that property rights are being destroyed. We don’t say that apples, which were never copyrighted, are “in the public domain”. Or consider UK singer Cliff Richard’s accusation that, as copyright expires, “every three months from the beginning of 2008, I will lose a song”, as if the songs will no longer exist.
A report (in Finnish) by the Finnish Ministry of Justice recommends the ministry to partially migrate to OpenOffice from the current combination of Lotus Smartsuite and Microsoft Office. According to the report, this combination would be replaced by a combination of OpenOffice (8500 workstations or 85% of the users) and Microsoft Office (1500, 15%). The switch seems to have been motivated by cost issues and OpenOffice’s support of the OpenDocument format. The report refers to the Valoris report criticizing WordML for not being complete open as it contains closed binary components.
Here’s a cost comparison from the report regarding three different options they had (page 25):
|Smartsuite (70%), Microsoft Office (30%)||Full Microsoft Office (100%)||OpenOffice (85%), Microsoft Office (15%)|
|License purchases||423 000 e||3 315 500 e||349 000 e|
|License maintenance||1 874 000 e||5 186 000 e||2 004 500 e|
|Training, support||500 000 e||880 000 e||1 155 000 e|
|Conversion of existing documents and applications||75 000 e||445 000 e||685 000 e|
|Total||2 872 000 e||9 826 500 e||4 193 500 e|
Any research that has been funded by public money, should be public in terms of access and copyright. I don’t think there’s a way to deny this. The Wellcome Trust, which funds research “to improve human and animal health”, now requires that all publications of the research they fund must be freely available after 6 months. I’m waiting for Finnish public funders to follow. In my opinion this should also cover software and data.
Link: Open Access definitions
I decided to take a look at how much different free software licenses are used. After looking at various analyses made by other people earlier, I made my own based on Sourceforge and Freshmeat. The result:
Steven Levy’s book Hackers (summary, e-text) from 1984 is a great history of hacker culture until 1984. For what happens after 1984, you must read Stallman or Raymond. But they only cover the Unix/university world. From the early 80s on, really interesting things started happening on the home computer front.
According to Levy, one of the imperatives of the MIT hacker community was: You can create art and beauty on a computer. An early hack on the TX-0 computer at the MIT AI lab was a program that played music. I don’t know what happened during 60s and 70s, but since the late 70s, lots of games were written. Games have always been part of the hacker culture (some games at least, not any games).