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[Discuss] Govt Source Code Policy

On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 03:33:22PM -0400, Greg Rundlett (freephile) wrote:
> The US Fed. Govt. is proposing a pilot program to release at least 20% of
> newly developed custom code as 'OSS'.  


> If the government actually goes through with 'open sourcing' their work,
> it's actually a giant corporate handout because companies will have greater
> access to publicly funded works that they can then incorporate into
> proprietary works.
> What do you think?

I think that implied is that corporations benefiting from public works
to bring proprietary products to market faster and (perhaps) with
higher quality can not itself benefit the public.  I think that is far
from true.  And it's also true that the overwhelming majority who make
up the public have no interest in having access... to either the
public works, or the proprietary fruits (in source code) of the
corporations which are able to benefit from them.  I think there's no
compelling reason to see releasing software under a non-GPL-style
license as inherently a bad thing.

On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 05:04:23PM -0400, Greg Rundlett (freephile) wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM, Rich Pieri <richard.pieri at> wrote:
> > Public works are, by definition, for the whole public. This includes
> > corporations as much as it does you and me. Denying equal access to
> > public works by restricting how the works can be used is unconstitutional.
> Wot?
> I am saying that a Free Software license would provide greater access to
> public works.  

No, you're really saying that a GPL-style license would FORCE the
fruits of corporations who make use of the works to be made public.
That's not the same thing.  The the license choice would make no
difference to the public having access to the actual existing public

> I said nothing about denying access. 

You did though... you want to deny access to anyone who wants to build
on public works to make a proprietary derivative.  But that also
includes entrepreneurs and other small businesses who just might be
able to leverage those public works to actually compete with bigger
corporations, who might not be able to do so otherwise.  Or you,

On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 10:13:02PM -0400, Greg Rundlett (freephile) wrote:
> I maintain that an individual person can't compete with a billion dollar
> corporation, so that's not freedom to me.  

That flies in the face of every rags to riches story.  I imagine Sam
Walton, Kirk Kerkorian, Richard Branson, and plenty of other self-made
millionaires and billionaires would disagree with you.

Now, if you said that an individual can't compete without being
aggressive and even ruthless (or at least extremely lucky), I would be
much more inclined to agree with you.  =8^)  But that argument has
nothing to do with this one, I think.

> Competing is a choice that only the stronger among us will voluntarily
> make.  So it is a false assertion that everyone wants that choice.  

But it is equally false that everyone wants access to public works or
will afford themselves of the opportunity to collaborate on them.  As
it happens, in the typical case, corporations are, as you say, in the
best position to do that.  If they can not do so freely, their
incentive is largely removed, as by and large, they exist to make
money.  The loss of their contributions seems at least as likely to
damage society as to benefit it, to me.  Of course, there will be
plenty of exceptions...

And if it is not your intent to compete with corporations, then why
should you care about having access to the fruits of their labors?
Why should it matter that this might amount to "a giant corporate
handout" if it happens?  Without corporations, we would all be
farmers, and most of the tangible things in our daily lives would
probably not exist.

I like free software; I use it regularly, I've made a number of
contributions to it over the years. But I'm a pragmatist; I need to
eat, and I'd like to have the comforts that a modern society can
afford me.  

Please don't misunderstand me...  I am not particularly pro-business;
but I don't want to be a farmer, and I don't want to work for
myself.  I work for a company that has leveraged its ability to use
open source software to provide a proprietary service to great effect,
enabling them to pay me a lot more money that I believe I would be
able to earn doing anything like that on my own, given my particular
predelictions and proclivities.  They employ thousands of people like
me.  I see that as a good thing.

Derek D. Martin   GPG Key ID: 0xDFBEAD02
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