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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There's a much simpler solution
by JoshuaS on Wed 4th Jan 2012 00:28 UTC
JoshuaS
Member since:
2011-09-15

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. The first amendment would still be as glorious as it used be and social and environmental issues could be tackled with very high efficiency.

It's sad that in the west co-operation is seen as a roadblock to freedom, while in these dire times it has become crystal clear that it is the ONLY viable road to real and durable freedom.

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.

Whenever you see the chance, HELP somebody, whatever it may be with what, and don't just try to help people by voting. Let us become the change we want to see and let us destroy SOPA from the inside out in this way.

~ A Windows using guy, musician, economy student and NOT a communist agitator

Reply Score: 1

TheIdiotThatIsMe Member since:
2006-06-17

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".

Reply Parent Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I think this guy is not against the core idea of profit as incentive. Economics can make anything look like profit by twisting it sufficiently to make it look like a number. He just advocates other form of profits than purely material and selfish ones.

Work psychologists have long shown that while the traditional "carrot and stick" incentive works for purely physical tasks, it fails for anything more intellectual. Creativity (as measured by the candle in the box experiment at least) is apparently stimulated by other incentives, such as freedom, cooperation with others, and the feeling that a work is benefiting something beyond just yourself.

Hard truth is, people who do the best work out there do not work for the money, but for other forms of profit. They only want enough money to earn a living, and it does not even have to come from their work. Give your employees a day a week to do whatever they want, as long as they show it to coworkers in the end, and you'll actually observe increased productivity in the end with no extra money out of your pocket. To the contrary, big salaries have been shown to reduce intellectual performance and sense of morals as compared to smaller ones.

I think there was a nice presentation on TED by Barry Schwarz or Dan Ariety about this, but I sadly can't find it back with this little information at hand. Been a year or so since I saw it, and I don't remember enough keywords.

Edited 2012-01-04 09:02 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Anarchy is a long subject. I do agree that Stallman can be characterized as anarchist in general, and I see it a as positive thing.

Edited 2012-01-04 19:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Before I start, I would just like to say up front that I respectively disagree.

You know, such (also, say, "with all due respect" most notably) is inevitably followed by something disrespectful...

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.

Only on the surface / hardly / not really. Ultimately, what really drives our civilisation: it is built on plentiful cheap energy which doesn't really need to be accounted within "costs" (hence also not impacting profits), its externalities mostly ignored.

Using the few examples you mentioned - fossil fuels are what allows, what drives our agriculture (totally dependant on them). Or cheap travel. Mass manufacture of virtually anything (also educational "essentials")
The "surplus" resources on this graph http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_welfare_and_ecological_foot... come from them, from past productive hectares (well, and partly from the future, in the form of spoiling the future productivity, effectively "stealing" from it)

Once they'll become more scarce... well, don't expect too much to not have some major war in the coming century or two. We freeride on smth without the real cost of it factored in, without real work (heck, IIRC we burn over a million years worth of actual oil production, which doesn't equal extraction, annually right now)

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.

Actually there would be, Edison wasn't the first nor the only working on light bulbs. BTW, he wasn't really that great of a scientist, for one he had very poor mathematical background (which lead to major errors - prevented him from, say, fully grasping AC and realizing its advantages)

And again, that company wouldn't have existed without ability to ignore large part of the costs involved.

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.

That's curious... because here, you essentially yourself agree that the holy profit isn't strictly the goal in itself, more a mechanism by which we regulate our activities. Something I would much quicker agree with (not like I'm strictly disagreeing with the overall premise, just pointing out some holes in it)

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

"Piracy" (in the meaning of personal copyright infringement) is hardly a criminal activity... (well, at east in some more sane jurisdictions I'm intimately familiar with)

But, hilariously here - you defined our industries, what drives our civilisation as... criminal activity ;) (since they were, again, built on ignoring real costs; and we still largely do that)

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.

That's not so simple ...from what I see, most pirates treat downloaded titles as very much throwaway, barely more than 'advanced' kind of demo. There really is an effect of how buying something influences our perceptions, commitment, pleasure derived. Also, I know few people who really do buy games they think are worth supporting, after they played through on pirated copies.

(then we might also wonder how much 'utility' there really is in games...)

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

Here you forget about "profit"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement_of_software#Cla...

May I also point out that your assessment of the root causes of piracy problem differs quite a lot from that given by, say, Gabe Newell http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/story_type/site_trail_story/interview-gabe... (not the only such voice in the industry)
Hm, I'd be faster to believe him TBH.


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.

You might look some time into how FSF operates, how RMS set it up... doesn't look like anarchy at all (not saying that he would be great as a leader of a country ...but, anyway, this is going into the area of straw man points - ~politicians are generally "bred" to their role most of their lives, and that's obviously not the direction in which RMS went)

Reply Parent Score: 2