Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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Before I start, I would just like to say up front that I respectively disagree.

You know, maybe we need to ask ourselves why SOPA exists in the first place.

It exists because we are selfish.

It exists because musicians and filmmakers only care about profit for themselves. It only exists because software companies only think about realising insanely large profits for their shareholders.

If we would all only care about making just enough money to pay the rent, the bus and dinner and for the rest had as our top priority helping our neighbor maybe SOPA and other tumors like it wouldn't exist because there would be no monsterprofits to protect.

I'm aware that its popular to demonize the idea of profits, and claim that anyone who would actually like to earn a profit is selfish. But since you said you're a student of the economy (I'm guessing an Economics major?), you surely must realize the importance of profits as incentive.

Profits ensure entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs start firms that produce consumable goods and services. Goods and services used every day, often taken for granted.

Profits allow for grocery stores, so we don't all have to grow our own food. Profits allow for automobiles and planes, so we can travel farther and quicker. Profits allow for books for education (and entertainment), games, movies, concerts, computers, and much more. Profits allow for loans to build houses, factories, and businesses.

Profits are incentives, which help to advance society.

I'm not belittling advancements done in science for the sake of science. Without Thomas Edison, there wouldn't be a light bulb. But remember, while Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, a company put them in every home. A company that wouldn't have existed without incentive to produce them.

Even linux companies exist to make profit. Why is there a Red Hat? Because if there weren't, there would just be another company in its place. In any (even partially) competitive market, firms will always continue to enter the market until the potential economic profit reaches zero. Conversely, if the profit is negative, firms will continue to exit the industry until potential profit reaches zero. If there was no profit, there would be no Red Hat.

If you TRULY believe that profits are a problem, I dare you to give up every item you own that wasn't manufactured for a sole purpose of earning a profit.

As for the reason why something like SOPA even exists, it exists for the same reason as DRM. While I don't agree with the measures taken by SOPA, it can't be disputed that piracy is a real issue.

Piracy exists for the same reason as any criminal activity: because there is an opportunity for someone to gain more additional utility than the additional cost it takes (or, as pounded in to the head of every student in their first Econ course, an individual or firm will continue to act until their marginal utility is equal to their marginal cost; for a firm, marginal utility usually equals marginal revenue).

For many people, the cost of their time to pirate a game, crack it, and install it, is less than the utility gained from the entertainment of the game. Some may view piracy as immoral, and would receive less pleasure from the game, reducing their marginal utility while increasing their marginal cost. For others it may be the fear of getting caught. Sometimes these are enough to reduce the ratio to deter the piracy altogether, but alas its different for each person how much it influences their decisions, and since for many their additional utility is greater than the cost, they will continue to do so, until action is taken to considerably increase the additional cost of piracy to the point where it's simply worth more to the person to buy it. That's where legislation and wonderful fun things like DRM (please note the sarcasm, I do not like DRM) come from.

And THIS is what rms has been saying all these years. I'd love to live in a country with him as president, maybe his stance on pedophilia is a little disturbing, but at least he still cares about the freedom of the little guy.

I don't disagree that RMS is intelligent, but he in no way has the capacity to try and lead a country. Freedoms are important, and I understand that. But putting him in any kind of political leadership would be akin to asking for anarchy. After all, no structured society, anywhere in the world, exists without restrictions. These are known as laws, and are in place for a reason. There is no country I know of where it is legal to quite literally do anything you could imagine.

"If you think you're free, try walking in to a deli, and urinating on the cheese".

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