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Free software

Free software is a subject which has divided society.

One camp hold a view that there is no such thing as copyright, these people hold a view that software, books, music and feature films no matter who wrote them (or invested money or time in them) should be free for all people to use. This is clearly wrong ! Some of the things which groups like the “pirate party” are trying to do may harm the interests of people who want to release / use software under more liberal terms. One very dangerous idea is to reduce copyright protection to only ten years, currently it is for life plus seventy years in the UK and Sweden. The worry I have is that any action to alter copyright law may undermine ‘copyleft’, copyleft uses copyright law to enable an author to release or wave some of their rights under copyright.

On the other hand there are those who want to enslave the whole world to a small series of companys which I will not be naming here. One example which was sad was the school teacher who tried to punish a boy for his use of an alternative operating system (Lynex). For your information here is the first reply of a leading person in the Lynex movement. He was later contacted by the teacher and after discussing the matter here are his later thoughts on the matter.

What I think happened was that the school teacher was so conditioned by the battle between the two camps that she instantly thought that a new non-microsoft operating system was illegal.

I have to say that some very publicly minded people have written software and other works which they have given away free to the world. For example Sir Humphry Davy refused to patent his safety lamp for coal miners, I suspect that this refusal to patent the lamp was an attempt to make the lamp as cheap as possible to enable as many people as possible to be able to work in safety in mines which are plagued with explosive concentrations of methane.

However some people who have put a great deal of time and money into inventing something such as software (how about Windows NT), a drug (how about AZT), a process (how about one for Cativa and Monsanto processes for acetic acid) or a new method of making drugs / fine chemicals (such as thionation reagents from P4S10 and butoxybenzene). These people after making such an effort want to get some money in return for their labours, which is only fair. So I think that copyright law is a reasonable way to make sure that people are rewarded for their legal efforts, if no reward existed for the creation of new ideas / books / music / films / inventions then many people who currently make these things would stop doing so as they would no longer have a means of making sure that they were rewarded.

To be frank with you I do not like the idea of people being able to steal the copyrighted works of others. When I was a university teacher in the UK I once had to deal with a plagiarism case, it was horrible. I view plagiarism as the intellectual version of stealing milk bottles from the house next door because you are too lazy to order or buy your own milk, it is deeply wrong. However in cases of commercial software which is neither marketed or supported then I think that maybe after ten or twenty years it should become public domain to prevent it going into a legal limbo where no person may make use of it either legally or illegally.

If you came to this link hoping for free pirated software then please understand that there is no illegal software here, please think before you pirate something the next time you are tempted to.


One Response

  1. Outstanding post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!

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