January 29, 2005  ·  Lessig

In 20 minutes, I’m getting in a car to go to the airport to fly to Sao Paolo, to fly to Chicago, to fly to San Francisco, to get in a car to go home. It has been an insanely intense few days in this astonishing place.

This morning’s panel was packed in what seemed to be an old factory. The room was overflowing with at least 1,500 people, and a panel of 5. Manuel Castells began, with a careful and extremely interesting diagnosis of the net’s development. I then described the remix culture culture has been (legal and free) and the remix culture culture could be (amazing and diverse) and the blocks to that new culture coming about (law). Christian Alhert told the story of the BBC’s Creative Archive. And JP Barlow gave one of the most intense and powerful speeches I’ve ever seen him deliver. This place is personal to him.

Then Gil spoke. Needless to say, the warm up acts were just that. He electrified the audience, delivering a written speech as poetry slam. He promised more support for free software, and free culture. And he again embraced the Creative Commons movement in Brazil, which is exploding everywhere here. Again he took questions. Again he answered critics, directly, and passionately. I was reminded of his comment to me in the car the other night: we’re just citizens here.

After lunch, I visited the Youth Camp at the WSF, where 50,000 tents, and 80,000 kids are participating in WSF events. At the core was a Free Software lab, with about 50 machines, all running GNU/Linux, and constant lessons about how to set the systems up, how do to audio, and video editing, how to participate in free software communities. This was organized totally by the kids who ran it. Machines in shacks, hay on the ground, wires and boxes everywhere.

I got to talk to the organizers of at least one part of the lab for about an hour. JP Barlow and I peppered them with questions as they described their “Thousand points of culture” project — to build a thousand places around Brazil where free software tools exist for people to make, and remix, culture. The focus is video and audio; no one’s much worried about Office applications, or the like. It is an extraordinary, grass roots movement devoted first to an ideal (free software) and second to a practice (making it real).

They have the culture to do it. Again, there were geeks, but not only. There were men, but plenty of women (and lots of kids). They were instructing each other — some about code, some about culture, some about organizing, some about dealing with the government — as they built this infrastructure out. Think Woodstock, without the mud, and where the audience makes the music.

I’m going to write more about this, elsewhere. But I’ve not admired more in as long as I can remember.

  • Greg K.

    So, was there anybody else at this conference that makes loads of money prostituting FOSS, besides you?

    Did you donate any money/equipment?

  • blaze

    Sounds like a commune.

  • http://functionalform.blogspot.com Nathan Sobo

    Sounds like a revolution in the making to me. Welcome to the 1960s of the Internetworked Society. Lets see what kind of software the growing fervor can produce.

  • http://www.respectsextet.com James Hirschfeld

    Interesting write up of the convention on foxnews.com c/o the AP. I can’t say that it paints a particularily flattering image of the attendants and it makes a point of mentioning that one of the computers used in a presentation was actually running Windows. I feel like the article paints Microsoft as a humanitarian effort rather than the huge market force that it is (which is okay-they are allowed to make money, but it’s not UNICEF) and it paints the conventioneers as leftist crazies. Well–I guess I am a leftist crazy.

  • Greg K.

    Wee, great, let’s all write software for free! Only those who are tenured professors making vast amounts of money can do such.

  • Leo Germani

    Hi everyone, Im one of these “kids”.

    I’d like only to make a point: “… roots movement devoted first to an ideal (free software) …”
    Our ideal is Free Culture, rather than free software. But if we want the culture to be free, the tools we use to produce this culture should be free. Moreover, software is culture.

    cheers,

    Leo,,

  • http://www.democracynow.org/streampage.pl Tayssir John Gabbour

    I mentioned that to a Brazilian too, that I suspected they might be able to school us US Americans on democracy. His reply: “The actual president is just a puppet with no brains, and in reality Brazil is little more than a US colony, dominated by a corrupt elite.”

    I was thinking of pointing out it’s exactly the same in the US… but I don’t seriously know what it’s like in Brazil so I thought better of it. ;)

  • blaze

    So close, yet so far.

    There is a difference between having free culture and culture being free.

    The first denotes choice (which I’m all in favor of), the second makes me think of someone whipping me and saying “You must produce for the community! thwwaaap”

    Why can’t we have free culture without all culture having to be free?

  • blaze

    Why can’t we have the freedom to choose?

  • http://www.robmyers.org Rob Myers

    Sounds like a commune.

    Only to someone who’s never been to a festival or a conference.

    Why can’t we have free culture without all culture having to be free?

    Straw man. Who is saying that *all* culture has to be free?

    Why can’t we have freedom to choose?

    We can. That’s what Creative Commons’s “spectrum of rights” is all about. Unlike DRM, which is about enforcing lack of choice.

  • Tito

    blaze:
    No one is forcing those attendees to be there or use the software they choose to or use the licenses they choose to. GPL != $0
    CC != $0

    It’s a new paradigm that does result in old business models failing, but merely because it isn’t possible to make money under old business models doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to make money at all.

    While some Free/Libre and Open Source (yes I know there are subtle differences) proponents may completely lack tact and be overzealous, the vast majority are simply choosing to use software that comes with much more flexible licenses, rather than the absolutely ridiculous current licenses and EULA’s that “proprietary software” (not a fan of the term) comes with. (and many developers in general lack tact, and like to think they know everything, not just those in the Free and/or Open camps)

    Free software proponents aren’t saying that everyone HAS to release their software under the GPL. (Ok, maybe some on the extreme are, but most aren’t. I respect, but disagree with Stallman on points.) Merely that users should choose software under the GPL, because it benefits them more. If the end users agree, then they will have chosen a new license and if the current major players have to adapt, it is because of the end users’ choice (market forces).

    Personally I like the license because it saves me time tracking installations, registering software, and such. Taking somthing that should be trivial to copy and creating entirely artificial barriers that make my life more difficult because some of my vendor’s can’t think of a better business model than “charge per copy” is costly to me. Their business model costs me a lot of extra time and so, when I can, I choose one that costs me much less time.

  • melikamp

    All the social forum’s 800 computers are running on open-source software, but the loosely organized event ran into an embarrassing glitch Saturday when two big screens betrayed the fact that the computer was running on Windows, with the operating system’s toolbar visible at the bottom of the screens.

    Lessig noticed and the computer was quickly disconnected and replaced with a laptop running on open-source software.

    – foxnews.com

    I do not find this incident to be a “glitch”, or embarrassing at all, given the pervasiveness of Windows. Still, I would really like to hear Prof. Lessig’s take on it :-P

  • Pugget

    Greg K-

    For whatever reason, your flame bait caught me. Why must anyone prove their worthiness to you? What makes you so special that I and the rest of the world must live up to your standards?

    I think the WSF is an excellent balance to the WEF. Sure, WSF is attended by the “elete” of the protest movement, the full-timers if you will. But you have to realize that the rest of the year many of these people *are* trying to create local solutions. This isn’t just some once a year “lets save the world” yank fest. These people are serious.

    Stick to your business and let Lessig stick to his.

  • Laurent GUERBY

    Greg K, Tito: don’t forget the obvious, 90% of all software writers develop and manage private use software, ie custom written for one customer who’s likely to get the source (even if not the public of course). The 10% of the remaining software is developped in proprietary form, sold in boxes on supermarket shelves, etc… If those 10% totally disappear (unlikely) it’s by no mean the end of programmers income! And if clumsy and harmful government intervention ceases, those 90% are very likely to grow in a spectacular way.

    Please always keep that in mind when discussing software socio-economics.

    Laurent

  • Rafael

    Hi Mr. Lessing, I was at the Forum Social Mundial and watched this presentation from the first lines of chairs. Your speech was very good and inspired me to work for the free culture. JP Barlow speech was specialy good.
    Tanks you guys for comming to Brazi, you will be always welcome!

  • http://planeta.terra.com.br/educacao/Gutierrez/ Su

    Hello
    I’m from Porto Alegre and this year I cannot be at the WSF. Friends told me about your presentation with Gil and Castells and I came here to say thank you.
    Um abra�o,
    Suzana

  • Max Lybbert

    Brazil is no worse a democracy than the US. The Constitution isn’t as well-organized as I would like, and it has many Brazil-isms (every fifty years the country has a referendum on whether to change froms of government to be parliamentary, a monarchy, the current federalist system, or a combination; there are more than 300 rights in the Constitution, including the right to a decent job at decent pay; several meetings the President *must* attend are scheduled, etc.), but overall it’s largely based on the US system. The President is popularly elected.

    There is a question of how the wheels actually turn. Just like Mexico, there is a single big party (PSDB in Brazil, PRI in Mexico), and a million small ones trying to knock it down. Lula is the first non-PSDB President since the Constitution was ratified (before that, the government was run by the military).

    For years, Brazil was the edge of any corporation, and came up with some of the more innovative business ideas. Brazil stood up to the US in the ’60s in the UN and similar forums, so I can’t really call it a colony.

  • http://www.robmyers.org Rob Myers

    Wee, great, let’s all write software for free!

    Tito answered this in passing but it’s an important point and one that needs making whenever someone misunderstands it.

    Free Software is not costless. Apple, IBM, and Red Hat all make money off of Open Source software. Even Microsoft have used BSD-licensed software in Windows. They are not writing software for free, yet they are using Free Software. To make money.

    The Free in Free Software refers to the concept of freedom, not to price. This is explained here .

    So nobody wants you to write software for free. They just want you to be free to write software.

  • Relentless

    This is why, as an ardent supporter of open source and CC I am often in the uneviable position of envying the followers of the opposition.

    Nobody will succeed at making open source or widespread use of CC comonplace by allowing it to be painted with a red brush as a new age form of communism. Brazillian rallies as described on this blog not only invite those stereotypes… they enforce them and make them appear to be valid.

    If people want CC to be a reality it must be packaged and sold in a manner that makes those who are at first against CC want to buy in to the idea. It needs to be shown with analytical data, with economic models, with case histories…. not with slam poetry, brazillian rallies and all the left wing new age back patting that this blog all too often engages in.

    You arent trying to convince Manuel Castells, Christian Alhert and JP Barlow to accept the notion of Creative Commons… they *already agree with you!!*

    The people you *are* trying to convince are the Antonin Scalias and Bill Gates of the world…the message needs to be tailored to suit *them* not us.

    When will the left learn to stop making the marketing mistakes that continue to allow people with lesser ideas to win the arguments. As someone on the left I find it nausiating.

    Stop couching the debate in terms that conjure up pictures of Lesig and Castro sharing a cigar at some festival under a tent in a banana republic somewhere (yes im fully aware how inaccurate that depiction is) and start showing the message as if it were being generated in Fortune 500 boardrooms.

    The battle for culture is as much about the marketing of ideas as it will be about their merits.

  • http://www.robmyers.org Rob Myers

    The people you *are* trying to convince are the Antonin Scalias and Bill Gates of the world…the message needs to be tailored to suit *them* not us.

    This is a depressingly anti-democratic worldview. Faced with a movement with genuine popular support, how can a “leftist” throw up their hands in embarrassment at the company they are being forced to keep and wish they only had to talk to the men in charge?

  • blaze

    Relentless is completely right except that I don’t think Bill Gates or Scalias are the targets as their power base will (and should) dwindle as we move to a more clearer form of meritocracy.

    I think the targets should be the right wing individualists who believe we need to rely on ourselves and not the community.

    Either way, the point is made. This is all just more preaching to the choir, so much that so that everone is beginning to think that it’s only about the choir and nothing else.

  • http://fff.hipercortex.com ff

    Lula is the first non-PSDB President since the Constitution was ratified (before that, the government was run by the military).

    er…actually, it’s not true. the first president after the military dictatorship was Tancredo Neves, who died just before becoming president. Jos� Sarney, the vice-president (is it the correct term?) was at PMDB. PSDB didn’t even exist then. In 1989, Fernando Collor, from PRN, got elected and then expelled. His vice president, Itamar Franco, from PMDB, became president. Then Fernando Henrique, at PSDB, got elected in 1994 and 1998, and then Lula.

  • http://fff.hipercortex.com ff

    so, as a conclusion, we are not mexico. I guess Lessig was only pointing out that Gilberto Gil actually was not afraid to talk with people. He might have asked security to simply put the manifestants out of the space, but he’d rather engage in the discussion.

  • http://fff.hipercortex.com fff

    Just to make it clear…
    I’m the one who got late and told you my job was to complain and annoy people.

  • Max Lybbert

    Sorry, ff. While I was in Brazil, I received the book “Cartilha do PFL” from a local politician. By talking to that politician, I understood that PSDB was the main party, and other parties really were able to work locally and as representatives (deputados), but really weren’t likely to be elected President (for those “listening in,” in Brazil, various representatives are sent from each state, and while I’m not completely clear on the system, it sounded like the top X representatives were sent from a statewide election — so the runner-up [and the next X-2 runners-up] would end up in office as well as the “winner”). My US political science class supported that belief by stating that countries with more than two “main parties” ended up with a single strong party, and dozens of smaller parties that weren’t able to dethrone the king.

    But I was wrong. So I appologize again.

  • http://netdireito.blogspot.com Delance

    How nice, all those Americans saying Brazil has a lot to teach about democracy. It�s not only that our current president is the first to receive the presidency from another democratic president since� well, a long time. But rather the fact the current administration (not unlike nearly every other administration we ever had) is not particularly interested in democracy unless as a propaganda (well, let’s say, marketing) keyword. And I fear the bulk of the WSF is not a paradigm of a democracy to the world, unless �democracy� must exclude everything outside a narrow and extreme band of the ideological spectrum.

  • http://netdireito.blogspot.com Delance

    Max, maybe I can help a little.

    The Worker�s Party (PT) is currently, by large, the richest party in Brazil. This is due to a highly effective policy of taxing their own members that are employed in the public sector, and then employing a very large amount of members on the public sector. On the last elections, its reported that they spend more money then all other 3 major parties combined. It was quite a remarkable growth overall, but fell short of a complete victory by losing key elections on major capitals.

    The PSDB is much weaker than before, but still the major opposition party. They are the evil twin of the PT, or the other way around. But they are very different. One is red, and the other one is blue. Rings a bell?

    The PFL is a sad, pathetic reminder that large sectors of Brazilian thought have no political representation.

    The PDMB supports the government. Whatever that is.

    The PRONA has some lovable nuts and is mostly a vessel for protest votes.

    The PSTU is a Trotskyite (or Leninist… who cares) party that considers everyone else a bunch of dirty bourgeois dogs. Very popular on middle class universities where people drive on their imported cars to their parents beach houses to discuss the communist revolution. They hate the PT Stalinists, of course. But, then again, everyone does. Her motto is �whoever punches the card don�t vote for the employers�, which rimes in Portuguese.

    The PTB isn�t a party, but rather a lot of different people that doesn�t have any ideological or political coherence.

    The PP is the PTB on steroids. For example, one of PP�s most virulently politician recently supported PT�s candidate for our most important city. As expected, it was a major defeat, since they had the combined rejection level of everyone.

  • Max Lybbert

    I loved your summary, Delance. Actually, while I found the PFL platform interesting, the book only covered education and the economy. That isn’t much of a platform. “Quick, President, Venezuela is buying up MiGs and may want to start a war, what should we do?” “Well, let’s see, I’ll flip this coin, heads we talk about the economy, and tails we worry about education.”

    I also have “Avanca Brazil” (for those listening in, PSDB’s old platform), and while I realize it doesn’t cover the issues that FHC didn’t want to cover, it does cover quite a bit more than “economy, education.”

    While I was in Brazil, Lula still walked around dressed up in military garb (then again, so did Saddam). Every time I was asked I said “I couldn’t vote for him, if only because he would be the country’s spokesperson, and people would start to wonder what type of country he came from.” He switched to business suits, and has apparently done much better than I ever expected. Since he was the President of the country’s biggest union, I really expected him to mess things up badly.

    For the record, I don’t mean to imply that all unions are bad. I do mean to imply that big unions often end up with the same kind of cronyism that large governments develop. Then again, so do many large companies. That cronyism is bad.

  • Jo�o Almeida

    Hi

    about Brazilian parties, the books say one thing, but in practice the politicians do other thing.

    1) PFL is our modern (not post-modern) version of old politicians – like some USA�s south rednecks leaders. when Tancredo died in 85 (he was the first non-military president since 64�s coup d�etat, but elected by our congress), Jos� Sarney (actual PFL) got the power. so he divided our Radio and TV channels – that works as public concessions – just like someone who shares cake with friends. finally, after some years of struggle and deception, a truly left party got the power. when right ones became opposition, they copied all left programs and nowadays their propaganda sounds like a comedy toon for the ones who remind what they made.

    2) PT, after 3 Lu�s Lula tries, won the election. they can�t do their revolution in four years – there�s two jokes about it, one says Brazil�s only way is “format c:” and other says “500 hundred years of caos, you can�t fix in 5″, and brazilian people – that loves a saviour politician – got another deception. Lula is going nice, but he can�t do everything he wants because right parties left him a country with “hands tied”.

    3) some of Lula�s supporters dislike his actions and started some new parties, smal and old school in ideas (want socialism here). during Hugo Ch�vez speech, some held a banner saying “Ch�vez, come and be our president”. they ware the greater activists during World Social Forum, but you can�t take their idea as “what a regular brazilian citzen thinks”. Brazil is a colony of USA, sure it is, but sometimes we think. that�s a “post-modern” role model of colony and metropolis, heh.

    4) and if someone doubt we�re democratic, we elected and ejected a president (impeachment) because he was corrupt and even the most corrupt media groups disliked him. ah, our elections doesn�t use ballots since 2000 I think. our model of electronic election works well – the system really works and you can check inside every machine to see if it worked well – and in 3 days you can count the vote of more than 150,000,000 people. next goal is Internet vote, that worked nice in some beta tests.

    5) we�re not monkeys, we�re not perfect, but we�re trying to do our best. and I�m not from any politic party, I just like the truth – or what sounds more like the truth.

    6) Lessig speech rocks, and for the first time (in his first time in Porto Alegre he talked only with Linux people at World Free Software Forum) he met people from communication, artists and public that works with music. now the seeds can really grow.

    cheers

  • http://fff.hipercortex.com ff

    Lula still walked around dressed up in military garb (then again, so did Saddam).
    what? perhaps I’m too young and the big brother already cleared that up from the archives, but I sincerely don’t recall that.
    about the rest, it’s the same as anywhere: representative democracy is not perfect.
    and left vs right looks so 20th…

  • http://www.robmyers.org Rob Myers

    This is all just more preaching to the choir, so much that so that everone is beginning to think that it’s only about the choir and nothing else.

    A new event exposing new ideas to a new audience is hardly “preaching to the choir”. If you read Lessig’s blog or his Wired articles you’ll see that these ideas are being spread wherever possible. Even ex-RIAA and MPAA leaders have time for them. So what other “preaching to the choir” do you have in mind?

  • http://netdireito.blogspot.com Delance

    I don�t think I ever saw Lula using a military garb. The closest he ever got to a military garb was hugging his buddy Fidel. Everyone remotely connected to the presidency, a lot of people, has a 1 million R$ (approx. 300.000 US$) VISA Card for personal expending per month. Even thought good government has declared that the bills are “confidential” for “national security reasons”, hopefully he can squeeze some decent clothes into that.

  • http://www.cic.unb.br/docentes/pedro/sd.htm p rezende

    Brazillian rallies as described on this blog not only invite those stereotypes [communism!]… they enforce them and make them appear to be valid….
    You arent trying to convince Manuel Castells, Christian Alhert and JP Barlow to accept the notion of Creative Commons… they *already agree with you!!*
    The people you *are* trying to convince are the Antonin Scalias and Bill Gates of the world…the message needs to be tailored to suit *them* not us.

    Wrong. As described on this blog, the people they *were* trying to convince at the Brazillian rally was, first and foremost, the people who cared to go there to see them.

    “Relentless” should get some respect for those who payed for the speakers’ airline tickets, and for the speakers who accepted. Getting Gateses and Scalias, who do not wish to be convinced in this lifetime, to fathom what is going on would be enough, and consequential. They’ll red-bait regardless, get real!

    If “Relentless” was not language-impaired (as he seems to be by the way he talks, so self-centered about something he did not witness and perhaps could not understand), misreading the background and the political climate of the event, of the act and of the gestures therein performed, he could, at least, read a witness testimony contradicting his naive rationalization: An article by Daniela Matielo, a confessed until-then-prejudiced professional native journalist. For those who are not, her very teaching testimony is at http://www.softwarelivre.org/news/3651

  • Max Lybbert

    /* Me: Lula still walked around dressed up in military garb (then again, so did Saddam).

    ff: what? perhaps I’m too young and the big brother already cleared that up from the archives, but I sincerely don’t recall that.

    Delance: I don�t think I ever saw Lula using a military garb.
    */

    I must have been mistaken about which guy on TV was Lula. Either that, or I’ve simply doctored my own memories. Either way, I appologize. I was wrong again.

    On top of that, I’ve been worried that people may have taken what I wrote to mean that Lula == Saddam. That’s not true. Saddam walked around in a soldier’s uniform to show (1) strength, and (2) that he was at war with the western world. Eventually he changed to business suits to try and market himself as a respectable dictator.

    I haven’t paid attention lately, so I don’t know if Castro got the clue yet, but he used to walk around in a military uniform (and may still, I don’t pay attention) to show strength and remind Cuba of his role in the revolution. Of course, that revolution didn’t do all that much to help the Cubans outside of Castro’s circle of friends, but that’s another matter.

    Apparently the detail about Lula wearing military uniforms was something I made up over the last six years. I do remember that he had a pretty unruly beard (unless, like I said, I am thinking about somebody else). Lula did this to try to connect with the poor voters in Brazil. When somebody asked about what I thought about Lula, his grooming habits were the only thing I could think of because it’s really hard for me to take a guy seriously who tries so hard to look crummy. Apparently somebody told Lula the same thing, since today he dresses like a regular businessman.

    Again, that is if I’m thinking about the right guy.

  • blaze

    Hey rob, check out Mitch Kapor’s weblog

    at

    http://blogs.osafoundation.org/mitch/rss/2.0/

    There are some similar debates you might find interesting there. I personally prefer Mitch because he’s more software and a businessman so I can really relate (sadly, on a slightly different scale ;)

    He’s also tight with Lessig and friends, I believe so you’ll probably see some sympathetic entries.

  • http://members.shaw.ca/jugrnt/ name

    I’m scared of flying.

  • Sergio

    Max Lybbert:

    How could you be in Brazil and write so many completely unreal things such as PSDB being the only major party, Lula dressing a military garb??? That’s ridiculous!!!

    Let me try to say what I remembered from my visit to the US:

    At that time the Green Party was the only big party and George Bush used to wear a clown hat and nose every other day.

  • Relentless

    Wrong. As described on this blog, the people they *were* trying to convince at the Brazillian rally was, first and foremost, the people who cared to go there to see them.

    I fully agree, the speeches made at that rally should have been tailored specifically to those people who attended the rally. Logic dictates that the media reports following that rally should also have been tailored specifically…. to the people who are viewing, listening or attending them.

    Relentless” should get some respect for those who payed for the speakers’ airline tickets, and for the speakers who accepted.

    I have respect for all those who attended, if I didnt id have said “why hold the rally?”, that is not what I said in the least. What I said is, why characterize it in the media (and on this blog) as a leftist rally in Brazil aimed at convincing the people who were at the rally itself rather than as one public example of a discussion regarding a new approach to intellectual property that serves as a platform from which to continue the discussion on the terms those in need of convincing might be open to.

    Getting Gateses and Scalias, who do not wish to be convinced in this lifetime, to fathom what is going on would be enough, and consequential. They’ll red-bait regardless, get real!

    If you truly believe that the people in power to make significant changes and the people in positions of ardent opposition to change are never going to be convinced… then you may as well spend your time milking a goat. “Milking a goat” and “not convincing the Scalias of this world” that creative commons is a real, beneficial way of handling intellectual property, will have EXACTLY the same impact on the real world end result. None.

    Widespread use of more reasonable intellectual property restrictions, or no restrictions at all, will ONLY result from a successful effort to inform and convince those able to institute change and those opposed to change.

    Im not much of a goat milker, so ill continue to believe that the best ideas can eventually win…. provided they are shown in a light that is truthful and compelling.

    If “Relentless” was not language-impaired (as he seems to be by the way he talks, so self-centered about something he did not witness and perhaps could not understand), misreading the background and the political climate of the event, of the act and of the gestures therein performed, he could, at least, read a witness testimony contradicting his naive rationalization: An article by Daniela Matielo, a confessed until-then-prejudiced professional native journalist.

    Ignoring the irony of your attempt to insult my language skills by using a sentence that is flawed; lets look at the more important flaw in what you wrote….

    You are upset because you feel im mischaracterizing the event that took place. What I wrote was that I was disasspointed in the way the event had been characterized and the way it will allow detractors of CC to pigeon hole an important social movement in terms that while not true will in fact be compelling to many people who oppose CC or are on the fence.

    READ what the blog says about the event. Read it as if you were a Scalian or a Gates world view supporter. Im not the one mischaracterizing the CC movement, in this instance Lessig is…. and *that* was the whole point of what I was saying in the first place.

    You do not convince person X by pandering to person not-X, you convince person X by talking to person X in a way that person X will find compelling.

    Wake up.

  • http://netdireito.blogspot.com Delance

    The problem afflicting this whole issue I think is the unnecessary connection between the argument for free culture and ideology. WSF, for example, certainly seems to be more about ideology than ideas. (Not that Prof’s Lessig participation was not a good thing).

    But the fact is that some groups will support Free Culture only if and for as long as it can help specific ideological goals, not as something that has any value on itself.

    One thing is to want to reform copyright and patent laws to make them better, another is to use it as a 19th century revolutionary tool. If something can’t be used as a class warfare weapon, it�s useless. Is this all we want it to be?

    I just don�t think that the whole “lets burn American flags”, “America isn�t a democracy and is ruled by corporations” and “Brazil is a colony of the US” things are necessary to the argument for free culture, creative commons and all that. If they were, than Bill Gates would’ve been right. Wouldn’t that be bad?

  • http://www.cic.unb.br/docentes/pedro/sd.htm p rezende

    READ what the blog says about the event.

    I read what the blog says about, well, whatever. Following the advice, I’ll recap what stands out to me:

    Before:
    If people want CC to be a reality it must be packaged and sold in a manner that makes those who are at first against CC want to buy in to the idea. It needs to be shown with analytical data, with economic models, with case histories…. not with slam poetry, brazillian rallies, …

    After:
    I have respect for all those who attended, if I didnt id have said “why hold the rally?”, that is not what I said in the least.

    Looks like a marketing lesson here, a poor one at that: censorship of what brazilian rallies can address, wrapped up as respect. Or maybe some case history of goat milking, for CC *IS* a reality. Period.

    If you truly believe that the people in power to make significant changes and the people in positions of ardent opposition to change are never going to be convinced…you may as well spend your time milking a goat.

    Convinced OF WHAT? Scalias and Gateses “buy[ing] in to the [CC] idea” just sounds incomprehensible to me: it conflicts with llifetime interests tied in with the ongoing success of their carreers. Whereas “Fathom what is going on” can be construed as being convinced TO GO ALONG. That is what politicians do. From which we can deduce that goatmilking is a subjective skill.

    Before:…in terms that conjure up Lessig….under a tent in a banana republic somewhere (yes im fully aware how inaccurate that depiction is)…

    After:
    Ignoring the irony of your attempt to insult my
    [***] by using a sentence that is flawed; lets look at the more important flaw in what you [sic] wrote…

    Fill in the asterisks between the brackets above with your prefered type of milk (and also below, if you liked the game).

    Before:Stop couching the debate in terms that conjure up… and start showing the message as if it were being generated in Fortune 500.boardrooms.

    After:
    Im not much of a
    [***], so ill continue to believe that the best ideas can eventually win…. provided they are shown in a light that is truthful and compelling.

    Marketing CC as if it were being generated in Fortune 500 boardrooms sounds fishy (or gooey, since we’re talking goatmilk here). It shines tarnished. It IS UNTRUTHFUL, at least of yet. CC is and has been a grassroots movement.
    I’ve waked up, from my upbringing, to the fact that truth can not be bought, sold or wrapped in marketing hipe.

    I suggest you stop couching Lessig and his friends on how to debate, if what you have to offer is this kind of advice. It devalues marketeering.

    IP racidalization is as ideological as CC can be, or be gullibly or credibly portrayed. IP radicalization is the road of survival for the market fundamentalist ideology. Because of that, I repeat, CC detractors will pigeon hole the CC movement as ideological regardless. It is not because how Lessig, the media or the leftists see it, portray it, or talk about it. This pigeon holing is not a rational act. So, when they call Lessig a priest of the Church of Open Source, why should I not I call them the Church of Corporate Greed? Why shall we be censored for showing them a mirror? Just because you may pray under their dogmas, judging from your marketing lessons here? If so, this is an insuficient reason for my acceptance of censorship.

    You and those align with your thinking do not hold a monopoly of view and use of the CC movement. It is yet to be seen who and/or what can best counter the preaching from the Church of Corporate Greed. When we all wake up.

  • p rezende

    “I just don�t think that the whole “lets burn American flags”, “America isn�t a democracy and is ruled by corporations” and “Brazil is a colony of the US” things are necessary to the argument for free culture, creative commons and all that. If they were, than Bill Gates would’ve been right. Wouldn’t that be bad?”

    Delance, I agree, and find a pitty that most here missed the chance to wonder along with Gilberto Gil on this very same question, during the event at WSF. Why are these things you mentioned, so disconnected by history, finding there a common stage? he invided us to answer, in a drive Lessig described as slam poetry.

    It seems wiser to ponder along in wonder, as you and I are trying here, than deprecate from Lessig’s labeling, in self-righteousness arrogance and greedy prejudice.

  • M. Brown

    Um, now, why is it wrong of me to charge for my software and take steps against its piracy? If you want all software to be custom in-house software, go ahead and do that. But I write software for the masses, I have the audacity to charge for my effort, and don’t take kindly to people pirating it. Those of you that don’t care if your work is distributed for free, that’s fine for you, but I take great offense to being portrayed as evil, elitist, greedy, undemocratic, or whatever other left-wing lable you want to use just because I’m trying to make a living from the software that I produce.

    Oh, and no offense, but Brazil favors this stuff because it’s to their advantage. Of course they want all software to be “free”, their software industry pales compared to that of the US. Americans may as well say that all coffee should be free and see if Brazil goes along with that.

    And Lessig’s shots at Bill Gates lessened my respect for him (Lessig). Let’s resort to petty insults to try to make our point. Or let’s insult Brittany Spears by saying, “I don’t think that music should be shared freely because I don’t think anything made by Brittany Spears should be heard by ANYONE!!” hahaha Ya, very funny, Mr. Lessig. Grow up, people.

    And what’s this “IP should be free, therefore the tools to make IP should be free” nonsense? What does one have to do with the other? If I’m using a word processor to write a book that I CHOOSE to distribute for free, then the makers of the word processor should also distribute the word processor for free? WTH are you talking about?

    Somebody explain to me how Intuit remains in business if they have to make TurboTax for free. Oh, by charging for support, right? Please. That gives software makers an incenteive for making poor software so as to increase support calls. The “perfect” piece of software is easy to use, powerful, and flexible, and requires no support to charge for. Ever wonder why OSS is so unpolished compared to commercial efforts? Ever wonder why so much OSS is poor man’s imitations of commercial software? It’s because the software is “free” and the support is “charged”.

    Lastly, someone above brought up that Apple makes money from OSS. So what? Apple doesn’t distribute Mac OS X for free. They charge for their software. Even for the minor OS upgrades. OS X 10.3 cost $130 even if you already had 10.2, and 10.3 is a minor upgrade. And what makes OS X so much better than the Linuxes is the closed portion of OS X, not the open stuff.

  • http://costume_accessories.psonizo.com Melanie

    Perhaps the food that fuels a free society should also be free. And speaking of fuel…would a truly free society “pay” at the pump? I am greatful to the programmers who voluntarily chose to write free software, but I also acknowledge a programmer’s need to pay his/her mortgage.

    But I am interested in seeing what fruits are borne of your labors. Good luck.

    -Mel
    http://costume_accessories.psonizo.com

  • p rezende

    Um, now, why is it wrong of me to charge for my software and take steps against its piracy? If you want all software to be custom in-house software, go ahead and do that. But I write software for the masses, I have the audacity to charge for my effort, and don’t take kindly to people pirating it.

    No one that I know of from the “church of open source”, here on this blog or there at the WSF Autonomous Thinging track (track A), ever said, implied or suggested that it is wrong for anyone to charge for licenses of digital copies of their work, or to fight against unlicensed use.

    Some may want all software to be either custom in-house, open source or GPLed, but this is not the point, for this is just a dream of a few of them. The point is that all of them want the right to choose how to license their work, and the right to choose software considering the licensing terms. Their common ground does not want to force others into choosing among open source or GPLed, the same way they dont want others to force them otherwise. Its gospel just announces that those choices are avaliable and are feasable, for believers are proving them to be. That not every programmer is audacious enough to want to charge for every digital instalation ever made of their work, and yet be happy, pay bills and live normal lives. Take note that this is not a call to arms. If not convinced, please read Benkler’s “Coases’ Penguin”.

    Now, considering this, I think it is wise for the audacious to understand the difference. The difference between what the poster seems to believe the FOSS camp is saying, and what we are actually saying. For what will the audacious do when they find themselves competing in the marketplace against software from the non-audacious? The greed label is not intended as an offense, but as a necessary step to dialog. The aim is to gather that by holding greed as an absolute value, one loses the capacity to connect dots to come to the understanding of how a less greedy strategy can, scale permitting, be technically, legally and economically more efficient. And how the moving threshold for such efficiency can globally impact bottom lines. In perhaps less offensive words, if less greedy strategies can be more efficient, this can only be comprehended by first waving absolute predication in greed’s axiology, be it moral, economic or both. Taking offense on its mention, specially extreme, is a pointer to an unwillingness for this first step, for this “change or referential”. And thus, for the opportunity to understand what is going on, what that camp is about, is doing and is up to.

    I know it sounds like an envious attack at the protestant work ethics by lazy little dark-skinned banana-people, but we have to be open minded and forgiving, for time changes the world and tech revolutions shrink it. While attempting to explain Brazil’s position, for instance, you fall into the ubiquitous semantic trap of confusing free *as in beer* (actually, an abbreviation of “free of charge!”) with free *as in speech*, an inevitable trap for the unwilling. Incidentally, a trap more visible in the portuguese language, with distinct words for *free as in beer* and *free as in speech*. Free (as in speech) software is borderless; Brazil’s interest in it is more for autonomy and auditability than for economicity. By the way, Brazil’s in-house banking software industry does not pale. It rather shines for pioneerism and domestic capilarity in the world (historic rampant inflation did it), not to be confused with the cheap intelectual labor for-hire market of the Bangalore kind.

    If something sounding like a call to arms is heard from the open source camp, it will not be against the right to be audacious, in the sense taken here and above. Nor will it be against the protestant work ethics. It will be against the stiffling of innovation and suppression of new competition through casuistic and forceful radicalization of IP legal regimes, tailored to sustain aging monopolies at the expense of emerging paradigms. (EU broader software patenting rules slipped under the rug in a *fishery commission*?). If you dont understand what free culture or free content have to do with free software, I suggest you begin, assuming you WANT to understand, by reading Koleen Kotally’s “punitive” sentence against Microsoft for its predatory abuses during the browser war, allowing the desktop monopoly to charge whomever for the use of file formats set by some or its softwares’ APIs. It helps if you start by reading some MS EULAs (only possible during instalation, of course). Lesson two can be to follow the unfolding billionaire self-exploding suicidal legal attack by SCO against former allies, hopefully also its money trail. Groklaw may help on this.

    The problem with this “war on terror” fad –Jack Valenti calls his IP radicalization cruzade “his war on terror” — is that the concept is an oximoron. In fact, both concepts are. The greatest classic ever on the subject of war, 2000 year old Sun Tsu’s “The art of war”, lays down in the first page the first golden rule for a non-losing strategy: KNOW THY ENEMY. Terror (free software, free culture, and other weird ideologies) is (for some) the strategy of some perceived enemy, not the enemy itself. If s/he/it is smart enough, you will never win if you don’t know your enemy. Knowing the enemy’s strategy is necessary, but not sufficent for a non-losing strategy. The enemy is not its stratety, forget Clausewitz. On the other hand, despising an unknown enemy’s strategy or inteligence is sufficient for a losing one.

  • http://www.democracynow.org/streampage.pl Tayssir John Gabbour

    “Oh, and no offense, but Brazil favors this stuff because it’s to their advantage. Of course they want all software to be ‘free’, their software industry pales compared to that of the US. Americans may as well say that all coffee should be free and see if Brazil goes along with that.”

    Of course it does; do you propose that Brazil act like a slave and against its citizens’ interests? Are they a democracy or not?

    From the New York Times:

    “In the 19th century, the United States was both a rapidly industrializing nation and – as Charles Dickens and others knew all too well – a bold pirate of intellectual property. But these days, when it comes to dealing with developing countries around the world, the United States seems to be forgetting its own swashbuckling heritage.”

    “The problem afflicting this whole issue I think is the unnecessary connection between the argument for free culture and ideology. WSF, for example, certainly seems to be more about ideology than ideas. [...] I just don�t think that the whole… ‘America isn�t a democracy and is ruled by corporations’ and ‘Brazil is a colony of the US’ things are necessary to the argument for free culture, creative commons and all that. If they were, than Bill Gates would’ve been right. Wouldn’t that be bad?”

    As an American, this insults me greatly. Our respected President Jefferson, a founding father, declared:

    “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

    Compare Thomas Jefferson to the lying Microsoft chairman, who stuttered, hemmed and hawed when questioned by the American government after MS broke antitrust laws. Corporations like his have no loyalty to America. He will call anyone “communist” for attacking Microsoft’s bottom line, even though that includes IBM. And people see through it.

  • p rezende

    Oh, and no offense, but Brazil favors this stuff because it’s to their advantage. Of course they want all software to be ‘free’, their software industry pales compared to that of the US. Americans may as well say that all coffee should be free and see if Brazil goes along with that.”

    By the way, I forgot to mention, and the previous post brought it up. Brazil’s coffee is still free (as in speech), and Brazil has gone along with that forever. Free (as in speech) while Monsanto does not get a patent for its genes from USPTO, with some arm twinsting at WIPO and WTO.

  • Kien

    Mr. Brown, I take issue with your premise.


    Um, now, why is it wrong of me to charge for my software and take steps against its piracy?

    Nobody’s saying that. “Free” is a confusing word in the English languange…perhaps you mistook it to mean “gratis” (free of money) instead of “libre” (free of control).

    If it was the former, nothing could be further from the truth; there are lots of people making money on “free” stuff and as the economy matures to accept this “hedonism”, more people will find ways to make more money off it.

    If it was the latter, I can only welcome you into the 21st century where your customers are finally flexing their muscles and the end result is in your best interest.

    As for piracy….I think Johnny Depp did a great job even though he was a prick when my sister was an extra on 21 Jumpstreet. :)

    –K.

  • http://netdireito.blogspot.com Delance

    Tassyr, what offends youy is just what Gates said or me too?

    Kien, it’s CAPTAIN Johnny Depp.

    P Rezende, I really think there’s much more to it.

    A lot of folks still think Free Culture and Free Software in the sense of Free Beer, but not Free Speech. It�s possible that support might fade when they figure out that both things are actually very beneficial to the Free Market, the least popular of the “Free” Family. He’s like that odd cousin no one wants to talk about.

  • p rezende

    P Rezende, I really think there’s much more to it.

    Yes, but how much can you say in a blog? In a EU-Latin American inter-ministerial forum, what I could pack in a 15 minutes talk is here.

  • http://www.tacticaltech.org/asiasource/blog FN

    Obviously a whole lot of guys are getting uptight about the alternative perspectives and approaches coming through here! We in India appreciate the worth of these ideas. It will help the majority of this planet, not a tiny minority.

  • Relentless

    The greed label is not intended as an offense, but as a necessary step to dialog. The aim is to gather that by holding greed as an absolute value, one loses the capacity to connect dots to come to the understanding of how a less greedy strategy can, scale permitting, be technically, legally and economically more efficient. And how the moving threshold for such efficiency can globally impact bottom lines. In perhaps less offensive words, if less greedy strategies can be more efficient, this can only be comprehended by first waving absolute predication in greed’s axiology, be it moral, economic or both. Taking offense on its mention, specially extreme, is a pointer to an unwillingness for this first step, for this “change or referential”. And thus, for the opportunity to understand what is going on, what that camp is about, is doing and is up to.

    That is by far the stupidest thing I have read in a long long time… perhaps ever. We need to call people names like “greedy” so they can understand why being not-greedy would be better?

    Perhaps I should start calling people Commie as a method of reaching meaningful dialogue. Heck, why not open debates on racial equality by calling people nigger or cracker?

    You dont start reasonable discussions by insulting the people you are trying to discuss something with. You start reasonable discussions by opeing them in a manner that THEY will find paletable.

    If you believe CC and reforms to copyright will lead to a more efficient marketplace, to a “larger pie” that will yield greater prosperity even if the size of each slice shrinks a bit…. and you know that those are the issues your opponents are most interest in… then you talk about how and why that will happen… you dont stand there with your arms folded and call them names like some arrogant jackass.

    Gates and Scalia and the powers that be WILL prevail in all matters UNTIL they are convinces otherwise or proven to have the lesser view. The status quo is on their side and that means the burder of proof is on our shoulders not theirs.

    Stop calling people names, stop chanting poems in a brazillian tent… and start proving that they have the lesser view or convincing them to change their view.

    Do you want to talk about CC, or do you want to make it the dominant scheme for copyright? Name calling is the way to keep talking, proof of theory is the way to make it happen.

  • p rezende

    Stop calling people names, stop chanting poems in a brazillian tent… and start proving that they have the lesser view or convincing them to change their view.

    Please, read what reuters, for example, has to say here

  • p rezende

    Heck, why not open debates on racial equality by calling people nigger or cracker?…You dont start reasonable discussions by insulting the people you are trying to discuss something with. You start reasonable discussions by opeing them in a manner that THEY will find paletable.

    Please, lets get the story straight here.

    a) We don’t agree this debate is reasonable: all the misrepresentations of what was previously said, even before I started posting here, is a sign that it is not. People proud of their greed — t’is capitalism! — taking offense when reminded is another sign.
    b) I did NOT start either the discussion, the arrogance or the name calling. I took the opportunity presented by the complainer’s arrogant name calling to flash a mirror here. Calling someone a nigger is indeed not a good way to open a debate on racial equality, but being called a banana citizen is a good chance to engage in one.
    c) As FN previously observed, a whole lot of guys will get uptight. So what? So be it. Strategies have to be tested to be proved worthy. As to our tests, go to the link at my previous post.

  • blaze

    I don’t think it requires being said, but Relentless is very on target with everything he said.

    Though, I disagree that Gates needs to be proven anything. Time and the evolution of ideas will make him (or not) a dinasour. What he believes (or doesn’t) isn’t really that important.

    Similarly for all of us. This debate isn’t because we’re trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather engage in a dialog so we can all learn from it.

    Mama Time is the only one that really matters, and she doesn’t need to be convinced of anything.

  • p rezende

    I don’t think it requires being said, but Relentless is very on target with everything he said.

    Agree, except for the “everythnig he said”. I think it requires being said he is way out of target by annonimousy blaming others for what he has started here. I am not yet convinced of his right to censor here what is done in Brazil, specially through arrogant self centered elitist and racist name calling.

    By saing that you are not only condoning these ugly prejudices, you are also here inciting it, which Mama Time has been trying to convince us is not a good idea.

  • Relentless

    I think it requires being said he is way out of target by annonimousy blaming others for what he has started here. I am not yet convinced of his right to censor here what is done in Brazil, specially through arrogant self centered elitist and racist name calling.

    At this point im guessing there is some kind of language barrier at work… that or you are simply not reading what I am writing:

    1) I am not blaming anyone for anything annonimously. I am blaming Lessig (the person who wrote the Blog entry) for speaking of CC and the open source movement in terms that its detractors will draw fuel from rather than in terms that they might take heed from. He is fanning the fire of the left when in fact what he needs to be doing is convincing those in opposition to CC that he is correct (regardless of their politics and based on more tangible business data).

    2) I have no interest in censoring what is done in Brazil. My point is that what is done in a tent in Brazil will in no way be convincing to those undecided or powerful to those in opposition as a method of creating change. Those in Brazil can do what they like, Lessig and others can go to 1 rally after another… if you think that will make the US Congress enact laws more favorable to CC or courts strike down laws that need to be taken down, or Gates’ supporters rethink their business models… then you are sorely mistaken.

    I am not here to talk about esoteric ideas that would be nice one day… im here to discuss factual plans and to collaborate on ways in which they can be brought to reality.

    Calling people names, holding rallies in Brazillian tents and acting like thats all very important may feel good… but it isnt going to make ANY significant changes happen.

    Thats not an arrogant or racist statement, its a plain simple fact.

  • p rezende

    At this point im guessing there is some kind of language barrier at work… that or you are simply not reading what I am writing:

    OK, For the benefit of all, lets then work out the language barrier THROUGH a more careful reading of what’s been written.

    I have no interest in censoring what is done in Brazil. My point is that what is done in a tent in Brazil will in no way be convincing to those undecided or powerful to those in opposition as a method of creating change.Those in Brazil can do what they like, Lessig and others can go to 1 rally after another… if you think that will make the US Congress enact laws more favorable to CC or courts strike down laws that need to be taken down, or Gates’ supporters rethink their business models… then you are sorely mistaken….

    Well, when you twice said “stop chanting poems under a [whatever] tent”, it could have been inferred that the reason for the advice was a common goal, to best influence those in positions to enact laws more favorable to CC, but it was not clear that the only place where those laws can be so enacted was the US Congress.

    The tent was set up in Brazil, but the forum was international. The 2005 World Social Forum had 155 K people from 136 countries attending, willing to raise voices in counterpoint to those emanting simultaneously from the World Economic Forum, in Davos, another international Forum.

    It was, therefore, natural to those who know about these facts, I and maybe also Lessig, to assume that places where favorable laws can be enacted include the European Parlament, WIPO, WTO and national assemblies, besides the US Congress. In fact, I think it is safe to assume that those in the WSF track A rallies believe the US Congress would be the least likely such place to be so influenciable at this point, regardless of strategy.

    Since it is also safe to assume that those same people also believe that not all other assemblies are yet rubber-stampers of the US Congress, time urges for them to be influenced by what happens in those tents, before the rubber-stamping “upgrade” happens, if it happens. I even guess that some of them also believe that such actions can contribute for these other assemblies NOT to be, or tard in being, “upgraded” to rubber-stampers. And some, that the main drive for them to be there being just that. And they are not loonies, just wake up and take a look at how the battle for software pattent law in the EU is unfolding!

    So, it is only now, when you finally spell out what you believe to be the common goal of those rallying there and in this list, that we are able to spot this missunterstanding: We (Lessig, I and others) were there and are everywhere trying to influence assemblies that are more likely to be influenciable, in the hope or with the goal of
    a) self-interest;
    b) sending a message to US congress, for laws like DMCA can not be trully effective without universal jurisdiction;
    c) before its too late.
    We’re not only chanting poems in tents, which is a good hook for a hostile local media (which I suppose you dont know), we’re dead serious about it. For it means a lot more to us, non-US citizens, that you may suppose. If not convinced, please read the article by reuters, with tangible business data, linked above.

    I believe that our misunderstanting, leading me to read your “stop chanting poems in [whatever] tents” as an attempt of censorship, to previously undetected differences of oppinioin on how the world operates, including the motivation of those 155K people from 136 countries under tents in Brazil. A difference I would call a cultura gap, rather that a language barrier, posed by different centers of gravity. So no, I don’t believe we (Lessig, I and others) are mistaken about the US Congress, I think, rather, that some here are demeaning the rest of the world. Now, to the next misunderstanding.

    I am not blaming anyone for anything annonimously. I am blaming Lessig (the person who wrote the Blog entry) for speaking of CC and the open source movement in terms that its detractors will draw fuel from rather than in terms that they might take heed from. He is fanning the fire of the left when in fact what he needs to be doing is convincing those in opposition to CC that he is correct (regardless of their politics and based on more tangible business data).

    After quoting an entire paragraph that I wrote regarding the greed label, someone posted under pseudonim “Relentless”: “That is by far the stupidest thing I have read in a long long time… perhaps ever. We need to call people names like “greedy” so they can understand why being not-greedy would be better?…You dont start reasonable discussions by insulting the people you are trying to discuss something with. …… you dont stand there with your arms folded and call them names like some arrogant jackass.”. When I read that, my limited skills in the english language led me to believe that someone identified by a pseudonym was blaming me for starting flames here, not Lessig. I can only appologize for my impairment.

    But when you, whomever, earlier summoned Lessig to “Stop couching the debate in terms that conjure up pictures of Lesig and Castro sharing a cigar at some festival under a tent in a banana republic somewhere” my english skills were enough to register the insult.

    The term “banana republic” was coined from the process of violent overthrow of the elected governent of Guatemala by CIA operatives in 1954, installing one of the most ruthless and bloody dictatorship our continent ever witnessed. The phrase became an emblem, not only in Latin America, for ruthless lawless imperial dominance, a modern label for slavery. Something not too good to be thrown around lightly as a joke, nowadays

    Now, forget Lessig: that’s fanning the fire to the left!! (outside the US, where it is the most inflamable!). A confessed christian should be careful, for instance, with the word “cruzade” while in heated discussioins with moslems. Dare you not now pretend you didnt know you were playing with fire, for you ended your sentence with a “never mind” sign which only added insult to injury “(yes im fully aware how inaccurate that depiction is)”. Why use it then? You’ve already elected a president who shows poor knowledge and respect for other cultures, why aggravate the situatilon in cyberspace? .

    Finally, I think we can atribute this last misunderstanding to the same cultural gap. And move on, more gardful of our tempers and tongue.

  • Max Lybbert

    Now that I’m back in cyberspace, I must appologise for getting Brazillian politics wrong. Then again, I wasn’t in Brazil for political reasons, and I didn’t follow the election too closely while I was there, as foreigners don’t vote in any country other than Iraq (where foreigners complained there weren’t enough foreign polling stations). It’s also been a few years, and I wasn’t taking notes.

    And all this time a nice debate was raging over mischaracterizations of the most extreme Free Software viewpoints, and a representative who appears to hold a view of IP similar to mine.

    And Brazil is a perfect backdrop for the debate, since the country was one of the first to ignore US patents on AIDS drug medications as a way to fight AIDS. Not only is that proof that Brazil isn’t a US colony, it has paved an easier road for other companies to do similar things.

    And if you recall, the reason given for the Copyright Extension Act of 1998 was that European countries provided longer copyright terms than the US, and international politics required the US to extend its own copyright terms.

    Of course there won’t be a “Copyright Shortening Act of 2005″ because some countries provide shorter terms or copyrights of smaller scope than the US, but international politics can have an effect on copyright, trademark and patent law.

  • p rezende

    Of course there won’t be a “Copyright Shortening Act of 2005″ because some countries provide shorter terms or copyrights of smaller scope than the US, but international politics can have an effect on copyright, trademark and patent law.

    There will certainly be no time for a “copyright shortening act” in 2005, but we can have some loosening up in a longer span, if a process similar to that which affected ITARR unfolds over IP. Which is not unlikely, given the traction FOSS, CC and the like are gaining (the level of noise + FUD around’em being a sign).

    Paranoid rules on cryptographic software from ITARR, whose logic did not factor in the non-universality of its jurisdiction, ended up driving business away from state-of-the art US companies, into jurisdictions more favorable to consumers, inducing these companies to pressure the US congress into untightening ITARR. Even under the war “on terror”.

    But politicians tend to have short, selective memories, and we now see CDBPTA and INDUCE on the same route. The ebb and flow of life, like it or not the non-esoteric.

  • Relentless

    So, you really think that widespread change to copyright laws on intellectual property will be acheived regardless of whether the US Congress is moved into at least tacit agreement with these views? At least now I can clearly see where our difference of opinion comes from.

    I dont foresee any possibility of meaningful copyright evolution taking place with regard to intellectual property on a world wide stage without backing from the United States. The Kyoto accords on pollution seem to be a similar example of world wide programs that lose an awful lot of their inertia without US support.

    This isnt an argument born from ethnocentric blind patriotism or flag waving idiocy… its an opinion based on the fact that US provides most of the world’s pollution and most of the world’s technological patents and copyrights at this point.

    In a world where copyright protections are evolved to a more sane status but where the US is either left out of that process or resistant to that process you will be setting up the stage for tarrif and trade wars that will act like some from of world wide value added tax on countries that dont police the illegal infringement of property” of US corporations.

    Believe me, as a US citizen I would like nothing more than to be governed by a political group that took the views of other countries seriously and seeked to work within the framework of a world community. To the dismay of many, including myself, the US government as currently constituted could not care less what most of the world thinks…. see Iraq as a shining example of that foolishness.

    Nonetheless, when you are in a position of extremely unequal bargaining power that doesnt mean you can accomplish more by choosing not to bargain with those in power.

  • p rezende

    So, you really think that widespread change to copyright laws on intellectual property will be acheived regardless of whether the US Congress is moved into at least tacit agreement with these views?

    It already happend regarding AIDS-related patents. In general, I don’t think it will happen if people just sit down whining about what’s going on, taken aback by the black-and-white view of the world that the powerful want to sell us, as passive cattle in the self-fulfilling prophecy game they play.

    I think it can only happen if people unconfortable with the state of the world brush up their innermost values, take charge of their own conscience and join in to do something about it, building their own view of the world in the process. This is what happened in the case of cryptographic software (Brazil abstaining): stringent laws ended up being loosen, not only the ITARR in the US, because the ones in place from the cold war were being demoralized by a reality buit through grassroot actions. The battle for software patent law in the EU, at the moment we read, an interesting and unfolding example.

    New ways of joining in and doing something are sprouting about every day, the digital revolution’s unchartered waters reserves us many surpirises. There are just too many fronts, CC is only a piece in this chess game, and you just listed a few other important ones. Look, for instance, how the global lobbying power of the Telcos will transform, under the widespread use of free (as in speech) VoIP software and ( given DSL, as in beer) services. However, it can only happen if enough people try to make it happen, for the strategy of the powerful to sustain the status quo is devide-and-conquer. This is a time to be open minded, reviving McCarthyism is falling pray to their strategy. Fortunately, there were more that 1 thousand US citizens at the 2005 WSF, the other 154K honored by Lessig being one of them.

    The arguments for the radicalization of IP are basically the same used by the segregationists leading to the US civil war of the 1860s. Brazil was the last country to free itself from pre-industrialized physical slavery, in 1888, it may pay its moral debt to history leading the fight to free the world of pos-industiralized digital slavery, affirming human rights to express and access knowledge in an information society. There will be a price for that leadership, but there will also be a price for inaction. And the choice here should be, I believe, ultimately guided by moral logic.

  • Relentless

    p rezende,

    I wish you luck with that strategy and I truly hope that I am wrong in predicting it to be seriously flawed.

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  • prezende

    I wish you luck with that strategy and I truly hope that I am wrong in predicting it to be seriously flawed.

    If each of us reach out to implement one’s strategy of choice at the same time, we increase each one’s chance of success. That’s the WSF spirit! :-)

    cheers

  • Mr Magoo

    I hate to tell you this, but Brazil isn’t going to lead the world in anything except on how to play a beautiful game of futbol. Brazil is a backwater, relatively speaking, when it comes to the high tech world.

    Creative Commons would be wise to stick to worrying about copyright for music, movies, books, plays, and other “art”. Software isn’t an “art” per se, and Lessig’s arguments for why copyright is “bad” for the “arts” don’t apply to software.

    If people want to write software for free, they will. Those that don’t want to shouldn’t be forced to and shouldn’t be forced to give their stuff to other developers for free. There’s already plenty of REAL free public domain software and Free BSD software (which might as well be public domain, if it is technically not). That software has its place, as does software whose code is completely private and software whose code is available under licenses more restrict than public domain or free BSD (like the licenses that commercial companies use when releasing code, or the GPL (which claims to be a “freedom” license but is anything but).

    I’m glad I got out of the software biz, because you guys are devaluing the profession. Programmers used to be looked up to as “rocket-science”-type smart guys, but now they’re regarded in the same mode as mechanics or plumbers, both of which take some brains but are professions that anyone can do with the proper training. And by insisting that software be free, you devalue the programming profession in accordance with the perceived value of the programmer’s product. When people perceive the value of software to be zero (in monetary terms), they won’t perceive programmers to be much more valuable than zero.

    As for the 90% of software is in-house custom stuff that’s never sold so that it doesn’t matter if its value is “free” or not, well as one who wrote both in-house software and commercial software for the masses (available in shrink wrap in stores), I can tell you that writing in-house stuff is a tedius excersise in boredom compared to writing software for the masses. So saying that everyone who wants to earn a living by writing software must do so by writing in-house stuff is a sad development. Besides that, it cuts against your own argument. Why is it so important for software to be “free”, when your movement doesn’t even affect the 90% of software that’s in-house? Let the 90% be “free” and let the other 10% be for sale. What’s wrong with that?

    Anyway, you do what you like. I became a programmer in the 80′s, got rich, and retired, so I really don’t care. But you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face. Of course Lessig doesn’t care, he’s not a programmer. He’s a misguided idealist. But he (and guys like RMS) are getting you guys to do harm to your own profession. It’s almost comical.

  • Mr. Magoo

    “If you dont understand what free culture or free content have to do with free software, I suggest you begin, assuming you WANT to understand, by reading Koleen Kotally’s “punitive” sentence against Microsoft for its predatory abuses during the browser war, allowing the desktop monopoly to charge whomever for the use of file formats set by some or its softwares’ APIs. It helps if you start by reading some MS EULAs (only possible during instalation, of course). Lesson two can be to follow the unfolding billionaire self-exploding suicidal legal attack by SCO against former allies, hopefully also its money trail. Groklaw may help on this.”

    p rezende, you’d be more convincing if you and the others didn’t attack Microsoft so much. Microsoft makes only 10% of commercial software in the world. Destroy them (as appears to be your real agenda), and you still have 90% of other commercial software houses that are not interested in giving their code away for free. How old are you, twelve?

  • Mr Magoo

    kien wrote:

    “Nobody’s saying that. “Free” is a confusing word in the English languange…perhaps you mistook it to mean “gratis” (free of money) instead of “libre” (free of control).

    If it was the former, nothing could be further from the truth; there are lots of people making money on “free” stuff and as the economy matures to accept this “hedonism”, more people will find ways to make more money off it.

    If it was the latter, I can only welcome you into the 21st century where your customers are finally flexing their muscles and the end result is in your best interest.”

    kien, how have “customers flexed their muscle” in demanding that companies relinquish control of the source code?

    Lessig gives his books away for free (or, charges for the book but doesn’t care if anyone copies it and gives away the copies). The difference between software and a book is that with a book the “code” (i.e. the written words) and the product used by the user (i.e. the written words) are one and the same. With software, the source code and the binary are NOT one and the same. Indeed, the user doesn’t give a damn about the source code at all. So, giving the source code to the user does not increase the user’s “control” of the product. So, there’s no advantage to the user for the developer to give the source code. If governments want to demand the source code in order to sell to the government, that’s fine, but I foresee mountains and mountains of source code locked away in a vault, unexamined by anyone and serving no purpose (like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark). What in God’s name is some government going to do with 10 million lines of source code for a particular product? Look for backdoors that were put in for espionage purposes? There’s no way that a group of people unfamiliar with the code would be able to do a proper examination of 10 million lines, so it’s a waste of time. About the only thing one could do with it is recompile it and give away the copies, and we’re right back to the “free as in beer” stuff that you try to deny.

    I heard Lessig give a talk regarding copyright for the “arts” (which I agreed with about 40%). He gave an examples where some video political spoof borrowed music and clips from earlier sources, and argued that, for the good of society, the holders of the copyrights of the earlier works should not be able to prevent the use of their work in derived works. This doesn’t apply to software in the same way. Lessig is way out of his element when it comes to software. If somebody wants to use an idea of an earlier software program in his own, then that’s one thing. But to demand the actual source code is something else.

    Indeed, nobody here has given a decent explanation of why source code should be given away for free. Mr. Brown asked how Intuit could stay in business if they gave away Turbo Tax for free. You responded by saying that you’re not asking Intuit to give away Turbo Tax for free, you’re merely asking that they relinquish control of the Turbo Tax source code to the customers (like the customers give a damm) (and, I suppose, follow Lessig’s example and allow others to compile that source code and give away the resulting copies). Intuit would not benefit from such a practice, and the customers wouldn’t benefit either because TurboTax would never have been invented under such circumstances. And don’t try to tell me that an OSS group would’ve created TurboTax, because guess what, THEY DIDN’T. And sorry, but there’s no way in hell that I’d do my taxes using a program written by God knows who, in his spare time. My taxes are too important to risk preparing them with some shoddy OSS program.

  • Mr. Magoo

    Addendum to the above:
    Speaking for myself, my life is much better with TurboTax (and its competitors) in existence. It’s saved me many headaches. These tax preparation programs wouldn’t exist in your world. Or they’d exist only as in-house programs used in accountant’s offices, unavailable to the general public. I fail to see the benefit to society.

  • Zongo

    “my life is much better with TurboTax (and its competitors) in existence. It’s saved me many headaches”
    “there’s no way in hell that I’d do my taxes using a program written by God knows who, in his spare time”

    These statements seems to imply that what you get from your tax program is not the code in itself, but the headache-reducing service associated with it.

    So what would happen if the code was free ?

    would you :
    1- grab a copy of the code and run the program by yourself ?
    2- pay the company and run the program as one of their clients (with added benefits including, in case there is a software-related problem with your tax return, that it would be their responsability and not yours) ?

    IMHO, the company would not loose many clients, if at all

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