October 21, 2003  ·  Lessig

Jim Garrison writes to report the launch of a project that uses my three favorite things (THINGS): free software, Creative Commons licenses, and RDF. Gnomoradio.org will “create an online network where artists can promote and share their music freely and willingly.” As its announcement explains, it is built on gpl’d software, and gives artists the ability to generate “an Internet address (a URL) that will point to information about the song, a machine-readable license, a method of verifying the downloaded song, a link to the artist’s web site, and information about purchasing any available recordings of the song.” More discussion.

Let free compete with controlled, and let’s see who wins.

  • http://www.scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    I can understand you liking when content is published under Creative Commons, but why do you care if it’s RDF or not, and why do you care if it’s “free software” or not?

    One of these days we should go deep into these latter two things. I don’t think it’s smart for you to reject software that costs money or isn’t published under a Stallman-friendly license.

    Further, I think plain simple XML works much better than the pie-in-the-sky promises (for years and years) that the RDF advocates make. I think you’ve been sold beachfront property in the Everglades.

  • lessig

    To like parks is not to hate apartment buildings. I like lots of non-free software (unlike, I expect, RMS), but if there’s support enough to deploy free, what would you have against it?

    I like XML as much as the next guy. And you’re right, we don’t yet have enough in RDF to prove its potential. But the more RDF that’s out there, the closer we’ll be to proving its potential.

  • john

    I would add here that many people so very often think that being pro-free/open software also equals being anti-nonfree software, and make that assumption without further investigation.

    I’d also argue that it’s that sort of binary thinking that impedes any discussion of topics involving the use of free/open software. And that’s tiring, because there are some very important issues that need productive discussion.

    Are 99% of open/free software advocates also anti-proprietary or “non-free” software ? Probably. But making that assumption before asking belittles anything that the 1% might propose.

  • http://www.tommymagik.com ron dunn

    I think that with this free software and with Gnomoradio.org we could make many things happen for the artists or musicians that really want to get there music out there. This gives musicians the avenue they have been seaking and letting everyone hear thier music. This new system is going to kick some ass.

    better believe it brother

  • http://www.scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    Well, it’s not exactly like apartments and parks, although I guess if you have a park in one place you can’t also have an apartment building there. Someday we’ll have to go deep into this, free software has at times had a detrimental effect on development of commercial software, and thereby (I’d argue) hurt users.

    RDF is a repeating theme in software. We heard similar promises about AI in the 70s, then Prolog in the 80s. The Semantic Web is the same snake oil. I wouldn’t have a problem except for the fact that it holds back things that matter.

    I really respect your opinion about legal matters, and if you want to talk about how you use software, I’d love to listen. But when you endorse vague technologies that promise a lot and deliver nothing, well — I wonder why you do it. RDF is not a new thing, as you suggest. It’s been around in various forms going back to the 70s (and probably earlier, that’s when I got into software).

    Maybe we should talk about this on November 24.

    In the meantime, I think the commercial software you’re using to host your blog has a bug in it. When I click on the Remember Me button, it doesn’t. This is one of the reasons why commercial software is good. When you ahve a problem, they’re more likely to listen to you. (Still not a sure thing.)

  • john

    Dave — open/free software is good for fixing problems….and some might even argue better, in some cases, including my friend Chad, who is CTO at InfoWorld magazine:

    http://weblog.infoworld.com/dickerson/2003/07/18.html

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Dave Winer said

    “This is one of the reasons why commercial software is good. When you ahve [sic] a problem, they�re more likely to listen to you. (Still not a sure thing.)”

    Commercial software is not the opposite of free software, after all, some free software is commercial too (I’ve paid for a lot of the free software I use). RMS makes it quite clear that free software is not about price, it’s about the freedom to share and modify computer software.

    As for being a “sure thing”: Nothing is a sure thing and arguing from perfection is unconvincing. With free software the limitation is on me and how much I’m willing to act in my own interests (do I fix the program myself or leverage a community of clever hackers and get someone else to do it for me?). I benefit from similar freedoms to tinker and improve stuff in and on my house, my car, and a number of other things in my life (obviously minus the duplication until we get Star Trek replicator devices). So I see no reason why I should settle for less with my software. The sticking factor ends up being not what I can get from the community, but what roadblocks the law allows corporations to throw in front of the community’s way (software patents, the DMCA, and an overly-long term of copyright, just to name a few).

    By contrast, with proprietary software I’m stuck if I can’t get the proprietor to act in my interests. Proprietary software is a monopoly and there’s nowhere else to go to get real fixes to problems. (If you sell software, please keep in mind I’m not trying to say you don’t listen to your customers. I’m trying to address what users are free to do with the software they use.)

    “[...] free software has at times had a detrimental effect on development of commercial software, and thereby (I�d argue) hurt users”

    It is not the responsibility of free software to somehow assist development or profitability of commercial software. Also, you cite no examples of your point to illustrate what you are talking about (the same for your point regarding RDF, AI in the 70s, and Prolog in the 80s, and the Semantic Web being “snake oil”–some or all of these things you claim “holds things back that matter”).

    The free software movement has definately improved the quality of my life. I don’t know about you, but I certainly benefit from software freedom and various things that have grown out of that movement (including increased attention to ethics in information sharing and increased examination of copyright and patent policy by the public which dovetails nicely with what RMS talks about).

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    One small correction on the “sure thing”–I meant to say that of course getting fixes is not a sure thing, nothing is a sure thing.