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new concept of owning
I did not read all the long mails and emotions about cracking and
sampling, but offer my point of view here, as short and clear as
At this point of evolution, the concept of owning changes:
In the past, the owner had the responsibility for whatever he owned.
Whatever he did not want any more, he traded to a new owner, together
with the responsibility.
( The capitalist system weakened this in the past century, because
shareholders don't share responsibility and the CEOs of subparts of
companies are fired so frequently and immediately that they often
don't go as far as identifying themselves with what they lead - but
that's not what we discuss here. )
We still live the old moral concept: All that is traded or stolen
leaves the hand of the previous owner and what did not belong to
anyone before we do not consider ours either. (occupation of land and
exploration of natural resources are problematic exceptions).
The idea o patenting extended this concept, but without exploding it:
Any idea comes from the collective mind of humanity and should not be
owned by anyone, but once someone assumes the execution of the idea,
which means that he invests work into it, he should become
responsible for it and should be considered the owner of the
*implementation* of it and be rewarded for success.
More complicated if someone continues the elaboration of the same
idea: Neither should he be hold back from doing so, nor should he
disrespect the work of his precedor. Unfortunately its very difficult
to create laws to force such "partial royalty". More difficult even
if the "user" of an idea is not in the industrial scale, where
patents can be negotiated.
In the last century a new form of goods became important:
The technology for copying on tape and photo weakened the ownership
rules, but still, an original existed and the copy was inferior.
Someone can buy the original painting for a lot of money and the
artist "feels a part of himself going away", while we don't loose
anything if someone gets a copy of our art, we just may get richer by
some $ and some admiration.
The case of software its more radical because the original and the
copy is identical. So to make another copy is not stealing in the old
sense, because the owner does not feel a difference, or even a
positive one since his energy is spread and becomes known. That's why
there is so much given away on the Internet: Not because we have
become so much more altruistic, but it has become much simpler to
give, because its not really giving any more, not even sharing, just
letting copy, we lack of a word for this!
Of course the creator of music or software needs to be rewarded, but
obviously, its not any more by everyone who holds a copy but
hopefully by the maybe 20% that really profit from it. Solutions like
"light versions", cheap betas, trial period,,, reflect this need for
several "degrees of ownership", but its all to new to be stable.
I find rather doubtful to make the payment depend on wealth of either
user or creator. Its the "socialist anarchy" of saying: I am poor and
Gates got billions so why should I pay for his soft... but I did not
buy Word either :-)
So this is a new test for our morality:
Are we able to reward justly the creators of the software we are using?
I have cracks of several programs that I just open sometimes, for
curiosity or to solve an uncommon problem, so why should I pay for
them or what would it help to trash them? But the ones I use
regularly and end up making money with, I have to pay, yes, sure,
nobody doubts that, right?
The whole problem is that there are no strict rules and we depend on
responsibility of each user and its good to discuss this anyway,
This awareness hopefully teaches us about another drastic new kind of
Through pollution each one of us influences the whole globe to some
extent. Even the poor guy that shits in the back of his hut has his
shit washed into rivers and it ends up in the sea. Although he may
never see the sea, he must become aware that he is a coowner of it
and has some responsibility. He can delegate it to some water
cleaning institution, but better even he would shit into a tank and
let it dry for a year until it's bacteria free and then spread over
Similarly, we car users are coowners of our air, and when we drive
around we should at least ask ourselves whether its really worth it.
If someone destroys a common good, is this steeling?
Kind of, somehow the opposite of the software case, since the
"previous owner" looses the goods, while the new one does not hold
them in hand.
So we should treat ownership laws in 3 categories:
- HW: what someone receives, the someone else looses
- SW: what someone receives, nobody looses
- Ambient: what is lost, nobody receives.