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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser


Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman, 3rd Edition

Richard Stallman




"[The term intellectual property] carries a bias that is not hard to see: it suggests thinking about copyright, patents and trademarks by analogy with property rights for physical objects. These laws are in fact not much like physical property law, but use of this term leads legislators to change them to be more so. Since that is the change desired by the companies that exercise copyright, patent and trademark powers, the bias introduced by the term 'intellectual property' suits them." - Richard Stallman

“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” - Thomas Jefferson


I can't help feel that I'm beginning to channel Any Rand a bit in my thinking. It seems to me free things, in a world where most things are not free, tend to benefit those who couldn't pay for them in the first place -- the poor -- and those who have the connections to game the system -- the rich. And while I might be soft on the poor, I still feel cautious of systems that drive most in that direction. It's much easier to argue when considering something like Facebook, where economic value is derived by Zuckerberg and his team from the contributions of unpaid hundreds of millions. FOSS forces developers to earn their keep sidewise of the value they generate in code, or hope one of the proprietary firms will swoop them into 'professional' work. Now, I consider a lot wrong with intellectual property as imagined, but I can't imagine a happy future where the economic value of copyable work itself is always zero.