January 6, 2005  ·  Lessig

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If I had the time, and the money, I’d do the deep analysis that it would take to explain to myself why it is I constantly hope to be surprised by Mr. Gates. Yet I never am. Here’s BoingBoing reporting the red-baiting of Mr. Gates.

It’s one thing to read this sort of thing from a studio exec, or head of a record label — surrounded as they are by the sort that surround them. But the people I’ve met at Microsoft are miles beyond this sort of silliness. Does Mr. Gates not even talk to them?

  • Harry Porterfield

    Will you post a response to Declan’s e-mail about a review of free culture?

    -Harry

  • http://www.cabalamat.org/weblog/current.html Phil Hunt

    A few years back, I read a column in the Economist’s yearly review about what would happen in the computing industry over the next year. While reading it, I thought “this guy doesn’t get it” since all the predictions were either obvious or wrong. Only later did I realise it was written by His Billness himself.

    It seems to me that Gates can do two thnigs well: (1) he’s a good negotiator and can often convince other companies to do deals which will harm them but help Microsoft, and (2) he’s good at leveraging a monopoly in one area into other areas. Intellectually, Gates in a two-trick pony.

  • http://www.cabalamat.org/weblog/current.html Phil Hunt

    Does Mr. Gates not even talk to them?

    Perhaps he surrounds himself with yes-men and todies. He wouldn’t be the first powerful man to fall for this affliction; I expect it would happen naturally to someone in his position uless he actively tried to stop it.

  • anonymous

    It’s one thing to read this sort of thing from a studio exec, or head of a record label — surrounded as they are by the sort that surround them.

    Lawyers? ;)

  • Relentless

    Id be VERY weary of laughing off these comments….

    From Janet Jackson’s breast to censoring talk radio via the FCC to deciding the presidential election largely on the issue of gay marriage…. this country is taking a decidedly wide turn back toward some of the unsafe ports it seemed to be far enough away from.

    The religious and political zealots that have managed to take control of the ship deck are more than likely willing to try to land our ship of state in the same McCarthyistic harbor that most of us still cringe at the thought of.

    Are we really safe from the Mr. Bill’s of the world pointing their finger across the desk and innocent thinkers and rattling off charges about some undisclosed list of “anti-american communist open source heathens.”

    Before you answer, you may want to consult with the Dixie Chicks.

  • susy

    What we IP commies all need to have handy is economic and social research proving our points around patent and copyright law. I’ve been (admittedly vaguely) looking for this for years. Does anyone know of such a thing? I know about the Chilling Effect project and other similar initiatives, but I’ve never seen rigorous, more formal research. I’d suspect there’s plenty historical research from the telco world that would be useful, and I’m sure there’s more out there of which I’m just ignorant.

    Thanks for any pointers!

    [Although granted, our country's administration has "faith" in the unprovable but no faith in logical, scientific research and facts..... ]

  • http://actusre.us Chad

    As other commenters have hinted, this is just another example of the shortcomings of black and white (or less than nuanced) thinking, the kind we saw so much of during the recent presidential election. It’s the unfortunate result of rhetoric obscuring lucid, rational thought on the issue. Professor Lessig, you should be familiar with this as a result of your debates with the likes of Jim DeLong of the PFF. Like DeLong, Mr. Gates is simply stuck in the past, about twenty years or so ago, when the chicago school was having its heyday. We need a new word for these free culture luddites. Who is the Ned Ludd of the unbalanced property rights school of thought? Perhaps Epstein (after his absurd open source article) or Ray Gifford? McBride doesn’t really fit because he fails to understand even the most basic principles of the rule of law.

  • Jeff Keltner

    It’s interesting to see the evolution of Bill’s thought on this issue. In 1991 he said: “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” At least at some point he understood that open technologies and standards were key to innovation. That is even more true today as increasingly innovation relies on the combination of multiple technologies, often with multiple groups buidling off of what one another are doing. Or perhaps Bill would just rather the industry come to a standstill now, with MS on top…

  • rich

    Keep in mind, we *are* talking about the man who in many real respects invented both the concepts of software piracy and, indeed, that code could be owned (and thus illegally appropriated) to begin with. These sorts of remarks should come as no surprise.

    As for who Bill Gates does and doesn’t talk to – every account I’ve seen of the man suggests that he’s the classic anti-social ur-geek. It’s therefore pretty reasonable to assume that his inner circle are not going to be a source of enlightenment vis copyright reform, as he’s probably stuck with the same core group since leaving school – and let’s face it, if they were going to change his mind about copyright, they would have by now.

  • http://www.wileywiggins.com Wiley Wiggins

    You guys are all a bunch of commies who want to take artists’ money away. Only IP extremist corporations truly care about artists’ rights and ensuring that they get paid for their work.

    This guy is either totally ignorant of the general thrust of copyright reform or he is purposefully spouting propaganda. Either way isn’t good. He’s a powerful man and this kind of stuff can’t be laughed off.

  • Alex

    Where’s a pie when I need one! :)

  • http://www.sdmiddleware.com jon oropeza

    The problem that I have with Gates is that he answers the broad questions – what is the industry doing, where is the world going – solely in terms of what Microsoft is doing/acquiring. If MS doesn’t have its paws on it, it’s just commie crap. I suppose that’s what happens when you become as powerful as he is – you speak with your money, and what comes out of your mouth (or fingers) is just PR.

  • Max Lybbert

    Susy: The first example I can think of comes straight from that old telco (and monopolist) AT&T, which decided to give up its rights in C++ so that smaller companies could build compilers and sell them back to AT&T. Why? Because back in the ’80s, AT&T realized it made sense. There are a few other examples, and some scholarly research on the subject (search for keyword Copyright).

    For those who would like to equate Bill Gates with larger political issues, could you please draw the connection for me? I honestly can’t see how Gates’s opinion of patent law is related to a Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction.” I also can’t see how the FCC’s role of policing the airwaves (which dates back several years) has anything to do with the article. I recognize your right to have strong feelings on the subject, but I really am having trouble connecting the dots.

    Or is it an attempt to smear all conservatives with the brush of “anti-intellectualism” and “fear of change“?

  • http://www.paultopia.org/blog/ Paul Gowder

    The devil speaks!

    Actually, I’m all about siezing the means of [intellectual] production. “Communist,” when it refers to the marketplace of ideas, is no insult. (It’s not actually an insult generally, but particularly when it refers to intellectual “property.”)

    But hey, did you ever get those netscape bookmarks fixed? :-)

  • Josh Cogliati

    What we IP commies all need to have handy is economic and social research proving our points around patent and copyright law. I’ve been (admittedly vaguely) looking for this for years. Does anyone know of such a thing?

    I would recommend the book: The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law by William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner.

  • fourleggedant

    contentious issues tend to polarise opinion. it is perfectly natural for fascists to call their adversaries “communists” and assume the term is derogatory. i assume the term “fascist” is derogatory.

    what i find most disturbing about Gates’ comment is his profoundly retarded understanding of human nature. humans innovate constantly, regardless of “incentives”. when Milton wrote Paradise Lost he was not in the least bit concerned about financial rewards – his incentive was personal fame. Donne makes a better example. Donne wrote solely to express his two greatest loves (women and God), monopoly-money was not a concern. in fact, throughout the history of English poetry financial reward has had a very minor impact on innovation.

    and if communists are such poor innovators why is the U$ military so scared of the ss-n-22 sunburn missile? the soviets were so far ahead of the capitalists in missile innovation that the latter still hasn’t caught up. it seems fear of naval attack makes a pretty good motivation to innovate.

    finally, i don’t think Gates realises that there is a difference between theft and innovation. making the distinction reduces M$’s innovation quota to near zero. he is an idiot.

    . -ant

  • http://foss.bg/blog Veni Markovski

    Well,
    living in a country, which was a communist one until 1989, I guess I am a little bit more qualified than Mr. Gates on the question about who is a communist, and who is not.

    I’d just give some urls, where you can see how his company Microsoft behaves in an ex-communist country, and you will make the conclusions on your own.

    I don’t wonder who is a bigger communist –

    http://foss.bg/blog/index.php?p=19 (The Bulgarian e-government partly offline)

    http://foss.bg/blog/index.php?p=17 (More signals against Microsoft in Bulgaria)

    http://foss.bg/blog/index.php?p=7 (letter to Microsoft, sent to their Director of competition law for EMEA)

  • http://www.enriquedans.com Enrique Dans

    I did write an open letter to Mr. Gates in response to his boutade: “Bill Gates y el comunismo” (blog in Spanish, letter in English)

  • Charles

    You’ve been “Framed”!

    In the new awareness that Professor George Lakoff (UC-Berkeley) brings about the use of language and linguistics and how the “Right” has successfully used it to paint pictures such as “Free Culture Advocates are Communists” , Creative Commons has been branded Communist. Now that conjurs up all kinds of imagery and a strong cultural (sometimes visceral) reaction to assume that it is everything bad and we must steer well clear of it.

    The question is, how will you respond to this? As I would understand Prof. Lakeoff might say, don’t simply issue a denial or try to tell them “facts” to counter this, you have to use your own frames and communicate your values.

    It is common that Liberals have a sense of “fair play” or that certain activities are beneath them. This is often used to the advantage by “Rightests”. So I propose a bit of turn about is fair play. Swath them in the “McCarthy” frame because most people know how damaging that era was. Another possible frame put out there is: “True Patriotism”. Then that gives you an opportunity to describe the virtues of a balance between captialistic interests and the benefits to society of the Creative Commons”.

  • Relentless

    >>

    I’d be happy to connect the dots for you, and at this from my point of view its neither a true “conservative” nor a true “liberal” issue.

    We have a political and social landscape that is devolving at a rapid pace from honest intellectual debate to labeling and attacking with the expectation that something false which is said loud enough or often enough will resonate with people in a very similar way to something that had been true.

    Fear mongering is not something that happens in singular isolated instances, it is a cultural wave which grows in force with each seismic event. The “family values” crowd are neither liberal nor conservative politically, the McCarthy crowd were not economic conservatives, the salem witch trials were not fostered by conservatism…. but all of those events have strains of the same subculture of zeaoltry within them.

    You dont think Bill is antagonizing the same red state Americans who voted against their own economic self- interest in the last two elections by using what many of them think of as “The C word”?

    The average american, in my view, understands less about the idea of open source than they do about presidential politics. They do however hold tremendous faith in iconoclastic symbols, labels and references.

    Gates is shrewd enough to start slinging the mud and co-opting the labels before the debate begins. Watch how fast open source becomes synonymous with “Communist left over hippies that lack creative talent and want a free ride on the backs of honest hard working americans who understand the sense of self-satisfaction that can only come from making something with your own two hands”

    The same people who though the Superbowl was a horrific travesty, who fined Howard Stern millions of saying he found Aunt Jamaima erotic, who thought sex with an intern was a greater evil than pressing hundreds of thousands of teenagers into military services under false pretenses… those are the same people who will villify open source and waive the flag of Capitalism in years to come (even though they havent the foggiest idea what the meaning of open source is).

    Dont take these warning shots across the bow lightly, they are the precursor to the color that CC and other related movements will be painted with. Limbaugh, Fox News, Murdock, movie studios… they will all be lining up to join the choir.

  • Relentless

    [For those who would like to equate Bill Gates with larger political issues, could you please draw the connection for me? I honestly can't see how Gates's opinion of patent law is related to a Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction." I also can't see how the FCC's role of policing the airwaves (which dates back several years) has anything to do with the article. I recognize your right to have strong feelings on the subject, but I really am having trouble connecting the dots.]

    I’d be happy to connect the dots for you, and at this from my point of view its neither a true “conservative” nor a true “liberal” issue.

    We have a political and social landscape that is devolving at a rapid pace from honest intellectual debate to labeling and attacking with the expectation that something false which is said loud enough or often enough will resonate with people in a very similar way to something that had been true.

    Fear mongering is not something that happens in singular isolated instances, it is a cultural wave which grows in force with each seismic event. The “family values” crowd are neither liberal nor conservative politically, the McCarthy crowd were not economic conservatives, the salem witch trials were not fostered by conservatism…. but all of those events have strains of the same subculture of zeaoltry within them.

    You dont think Bill is antagonizing the same red state Americans who voted against their own economic self- interest in the last two elections by using what many of them think of as “The C word”?

    The average american, in my view, understands less about the idea of open source than they do about presidential politics. They do however hold tremendous faith in iconoclastic symbols, labels and references.

    Gates is shrewd enough to start slinging the mud and co-opting the labels before the debate begins. Watch how fast open source becomes synonymous with “Communist left over hippies that lack creative talent and want a free ride on the backs of honest hard working americans who understand the sense of self-satisfaction that can only come from making something with your own two hands”

    The same people who though the Superbowl was a horrific travesty, who fined Howard Stern millions of saying he found Aunt Jamaima erotic, who thought sex with an intern was a greater evil than pressing hundreds of thousands of teenagers into military services under false pretenses… those are the same people who will villify open source and waive the flag of Capitalism in years to come (even though they havent the foggiest idea what the meaning of open source is).

    Dont take these warning shots across the bow lightly, they are the precursor to the color that CC and other related movements will be painted with. Limbaugh, Fox News, Murdock, movie studios… they will all be lining up to join the choir.

  • http://crackhouse.blogspot.com Kirk House

    There is an old tounge in cheek argument that the kid that bashes car windows while his neighbors sleep is a good thing for the economy. He creates business for the window repair people, jobs are created, GDP goes up, everybody wins? Obviously that’s not the case but that appears to be the logic Gates is using. In fact, he’s been breaking Windows for nearly two decades.

  • Ed Lyons

    Welcome to reality, Professor! :-) For those of us in the software industry familiar with his principles, Gates’ comments about the free culture crowd don’t even merit a shrug. Just wait until a certain level of adoption of linux and/or firefox “forces” Microsoft to “defend” it’s intellectual property. He will go from disappointing you to being the enemy.

  • jon

    At this point, I’m just waiting for the digital Reichtag fire, because this medium simply isn’t simpatico with capital concentration and opinion management, and must be evicerated by the current power elite if they hope to retain control. (And now that they regularly engage in high crimes, their very freedom is their incentive.)

  • http://www.wileywiggins.com Wiley Wiggins

    I believe that Mark Cuban also made a free-culture/communist allusion in a business 2.0 interview a while back, but it was much more subdued.

  • Cranky Observer

    Relentless is right on the money. I estimate we are about one year away from the introduction of a bill in the US Congress to outlaw the GPL.

    And yes, I know it “isn’t possible”. It also isn’t possible under the US Constitution to condem people in a Star Chamber and disapper them, but the current nominee to be Attorney General has participated in exactly that activity.

    Cranky

  • Max Lybbert

    Sorry, Relentless, Gates has been using the label for a long time. I seem to remember reports from ’96 that he called one of his executives communist:

    There was a growing sense among Microsoft execs that the Internet opportunity had to be seized–before it slipped to others. On June 1, 40 of them gathered at the Red Lion Inn in Bellevue, Wash., to brainstorm Net strategy. Gates gave a 20-minute talk on the “Internet Tidal Wave.” Slivka’s scheduled 15-minute talk ended up lasting more than an hour. “I got some people riled up,” he says. At one point, Slivka proposed that Microsoft give away some software on the Net, as Netscape was doing. Gates, he recalls, “called me a communist.”

    Yes, Gates is trying to use bad labels to sway public opinion without a real debate, however it isn’t a new tactic, and it isn’t targeted at all those dumb “red staters.”

    For the record, I don’t agree with Gates, and I hope to see MS’s monopoly decline just as AT&T’s and IBM’s.

    And I’m not sure what you mean when you say red state Americans who voted against their own economic self- interest in the last two elections. Hmm, it seems to me that they weighed their economic self-interests pretty well in 2000 (if you didn’t follow the link, after the Bush tax cuts, the rich pay a larger percentage of taxes, and more people are completely exempt from taxes). If the Democratic understanding of Social Security solvency is any indication, then it was definitely in their economic self interest to re-elect him. (OK, the Social Security Administration doesn’t see the problem, since all former bonds have been repaid, but where do you think the money came from? I’ll give you a hint — general taxes on everyone.) This is quite a bit like Clinton’s decision to not cut Social Security benefits, but to tax them instead. Hmm, if he had cut benefits, then the government would have kept the money and sent smaller checks. Instead he taxed benefits, so the government kept the money, and sent smaller checks. Correct me if I’m wrong. I really want to be wrong.

  • anon sili valley werker

    Well, we are commies, in Bill’s eyes. And, we are in a fight against them. Hoping that that those seduced by Mammon will ever come back to the light is an exercise in futility. Meaning, the only thing Gates has ever kept score by is money, because he will fail under any other scorekeeping method. So he cannot in his psyche accept that anyone would do anything except with money as the number one goal. Or maybe he cannot accept that in his CEO psyche, because he has given enormous sums to fight AIDS in Africa, which is more than many do.

    But even so, it does seem to baffle him that people would want to spend time doing something besides whatever it takes to make more money. And, anyone like him is going to do whatever it take to make sure that their worldview survives, just as we, who think there are more interesting pursuits to have as one’s main goal in life NEED to do whatever it takes to make our way succeed.

    If you don’t think there’s a fight, you haven’t been paying attention. Now I have nothing against money itself as a means of exchanging energy, but *nothing* I do is to make money first. And I am richer as a person when other people are enriched. If that makes me a communist, I’m a communist. I happen to think, rather, that it makes me civilized.

    In fact, maybe that is really the argument that we need to make against the straw man wielding capitalists, in the public perception. We are for civil order. We are for the progress of civilization. If you do things only for money, quality suffers. For example, spyware, malware, viruses; prozac, alleve; Abu Ghraib.

    But it is far too late for Gates to redeem himself; noone will ever believe that he is anything other than a well, jerk is the polite term, when it comes to business. If he wants to be remembered as a civiilized man, he will need to give up business.

    But that’s my opinion. I could be wrong.

  • Greg K.

    Right on Gates! It’s Lessig who’s the intellectual disappointment, who’d give up his communist ideology if he had to ever actually work for a living.

  • Max Lybbert

    Gates is used to shouting people down. He claims it’s a way to force people to defend their ideas; I believe it’s a sign of immaturity. So, yes, he is an intellectual disappointment.

    But painting anyone who doesn’t understand open source (or who does, and doesn’t agree) as a red-baiting money-grubbing capitalist is no better than painting anyone who uses open source as a wild-eyed save-the-whales yuppie marxist (by “yuppie marxist,” I mean people who drive BMWs and talk about how unfair life is for poor people, without doing anything to improve the life of poor people).

  • Paul Benjamin

    It seems like this whole thing is reversed and upside down. If there is one think at Commies had was central control of everything. The free world was free, anybody could do what they wanted and create anything they wanted. Nobody got shipped off to the gulag.

    Now who is more centrally controlled and who has more freedom, if there is any Commie it it is the richest man in the world who wants to control the rest of the world. Who is threatening to jail people?

  • blaze

    “Relentless is right on the money. I estimate we are about one year away from the introduction of a bill in the US Congress to outlaw the GPL.”

    No. Outlawing GPL would be very anti-american. GPL and other copyrights fundamentally rely on strong copyright.

    The problem we have here is that Lessig is simply playing into Bill’s hands – kind of like he played into the other Bill’s hands, if you know what I mean.

    What we all need to do is stand up and *AGREE* with Bill Gates. Yes, forcing all software to be free *IS* communism and such ideology should not tolerated under any circumstances.

    If the mantra is that the creator has absolute and flexible control over how her content is utilized in the context of other content, then no one will be able to complain about fantastic ideas, such as Creative Commons, GPL, etc.

    Unfortunately, the mantra is not about absolute control over the creator. The mantra is “lets rewrite copyright!!! yippeee!!

    This kind of poor marketing is what’s brining us all down and really is just more Stallmanish stupidity.

  • blaze

    Sorry, I meant to say:

    “Unfortunately, the mantra is not absolute and flexible control for the creator over her content”.

    This should be at the top of every single alternative copyright license. We need to pound this concept home again and again.

    The fact that we don’t do so makes me and most sensible creators want to side with Bill Gates.

  • Human

    I don’t think his (Gate’s) rethoric is aimed at those heralding rational copyright reforms. The communist remark, as I see it, is rather for those who have already taken matters into their own hands and do distribute huge amounts of (also in terms of copyright-reformists) righteously copyrighted material over the internet every day.

    In addition to that, I don’t think any rational advocate of copyright reform would argue against the fact that some potent forms of copyrights have to exist to reward risk taking and other investments. Someone who negates this principle and tries to force property owners to give in by sharing their content with this aim could – in a crude simplification – be called a modern day communist.

    Thus, for me Gate’s harsh words are understandable altough – in this context – very superficial.

    So no need for all this fuss then.

  • Alexander Wehr

    With so many IP extremists calling us commies, i’m surprised not to see even one IP reformist pointing out state controls/caps on innovation(and the economy) like the DMCA and Cable/Broadcast flag.

    The DMCA in particular not only places state control on the economy through tech mandates, but also places state supported control on individual property by essentially allowing cartels to regulate private use by individuals of their purchased goods.

    Individual property is the foundation of capitalism, and section 1201 jeopoardizes this concept.

  • Brian

    Can we try something here? Let’s make Mr. Gates’ argument concrete.

    Imagine if you will that Mr. Gates is referring to a collection of CDs, like say the entire Beatles music collection. Then imagine being the Beatles without any IP protections. What’s the value of owning the rights to the Beatles collection (in light of perfect digital copying of audio as well as visual media)? Zero. Isn’t this like nationalizing an industry with no payment? Isn’t this effectively communist?

    Taken to its extreme, lack of all intellectual property removes the incentive for artists. Once again, isn’t that effectively communist?

    Now I’m guessing most of you are talking aflame about IP like some crazy software patent which really is quite obvious (like Browser Plug-ins, XORing of cursors or FAT32 partitions in Linux). In these issues, software patenting is clearly bad. What would have happened if someone had patented the Internet (TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, etc)? Open standards are a good thing. Interoperability is a great thing.

    Somewhere in the middle is where we should be. Thus IP protections DO need to be rewritten. Depending on what Mr. Gates was talking about, Communist is a name that fits or a name that’s waaaaay off the mark. But do we really know what he was talking about?

    Remember that Microsoft is getting sued for browser plug-ins as well as Burst’s streaming media patent. Which side are you on for any of these intellectual property issues?

  • blaze

    ” don’t think his (Gate’s) rethoric is aimed at those heralding rational copyright reforms. The communist remark, as I see it, is rather for those who have already taken matters into their own hands and do distribute huge amounts of (also in terms of copyright-reformists) righteously copyrighted material over the internet every day.

    In addition to that, I don’t think any rational advocate of copyright reform would argue against the fact that some potent forms of copyrights have to exist to reward risk taking and other investments. Someone who negates this principle and tries to force property owners to give in by sharing their content with this aim could – in a crude simplification – be called a modern day communist.

    Thus, for me Gate’s harsh words are understandable altough – in this context – very superficial.

    So no need for all this fuss then.

    This is completely accurate. The truly unfortunate dissapointment in all this is that Gates has every right to complain.

    There are a lot of people who are not respecting copyright in a way that it should be respected. Music and Software is being pirated and shared in a way that ‘communism’ is actually a polite way to describe it.

    Creative Commons is not about pirating and instead of posting in the irresponsible way that Lessig is doing, he should be posting by saying “Yes, I completely agree with Bill Gates that the current rampant piracy on the internet is even worse than communism”.

    Unfortunately, he doesn’t. So he becomes the dissapointment.

  • three blind mice

    What would have happened if someone had patented the Internet (TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, etc)?

    what would have happened if someone had patented certain protocols used by GSM or MP3?

    heavily patented GSM has 1 billion subscribers – 25% more paying users than than the free internet has users.

    heavily patented MP3 is one of the most successful audio compression standards ever produced.

    so what would have happened if someone had patented aspects of HTML, ot TCP/IP? the internet would probably be delivering more value to the end user than it does today.

  • blaze

    three blind mice’s point can be further extended by looking at the example of Adobe.

    Adobe has tonnes of patents – but what did they do? They gave the reader away for free, thus making PDF format a very widely used and popular format and making a very tidy business for themselves on their strong copyright software.

    The fact is, we’re all in the same boat. Lessig needs to be applauding Bill Gates and not flaming him in this intellectually dissapointing way.

    Powerful copyrights for the creator is the underpinning to everything we want to do, whether it be regular copyright or GPL or Creative Commons.

  • blaze

    The problem here is, btw, the misunderstanding of the battle.

    Lessig and his buddies are caught up in the IBM vrs Microsoft battle and are letting the enemies of Microsoft manipulate them into thinking that Microsoft is our enemy as well.

    They are not.

    The enemies are the people who do not want the original inventors and entrepeneurs to profit off of our content and creations. Microsoft has legions of programmers. I’m not saying they are the greatest, but they are hardly the problem here.

    The problem are the entrenched lawyers, middle managers, and distributors.. the people who simply hold back the process of progress.

    This is what creative commons, GPL, BSD, etc is meant to address. I believe that Lessig understands this on some subconcious level, unfortunately he’s getting all caught up in these terrible distractions.

    Right now their is a

  • blaze

    (continued, his post by accident)

    Right now there is an opportunity to change things so the creators and risk takers are the only ones who profit off of their work.

    Weakening copyright in any way will not forward that cause.

  • http://mobileeyes.blogspot.com Doug Thacker

    In a world of political equilibrium, Bill Gates’ recent equation of free culture advocates and communists would be laughable – and only the laughable would take it seriously. It should be clear, though, that we no longer live in a world of political equilibrium. Rather, we are in a world that requires us, every day, to take the laughable seriously.

    Weblogs and forums, most of them, have failed to do this with Gates’ statement. (Although I can see that’s not the case with many people here.) Instead they are treating it as a case of “open mouth, insert foot”, by someone who ought to be (and probably is) better informed. In this they risk missing its significance.

    If the Gates statement wasn’t a malapropism, what was it? I think it’s fair to suggest that it was an attempt – one of many – to ineluctably link the fate of Microsoft with corporate and state interests. (You’re saying they’re not linked? I hear you asking. But Microsoft surely hasn’t forgotten its antitrust difficulties with the U.S. Justice Department, to say nothing of its current problems in Europe. Nor, for that matter, its desire to win over wholly Hollywood and the recording industry.) If that is the case – and this is more to the point – then it was also an effort to position advocates of open source, creative commons thinkers, and the like, as onerous threats to those interests. My enemies are your enemies. This seems to be Gates’ message to his major customers, past, present, future – the governments of the world, the major corporations, and, by extension, the “monied interests”.

    Given the rightward lurch of the West, Gates’ suggestion, if he succeeds in getting it across, could eventually cast increased suspicion on the ideas of so called free culture. Possibly it could lead to Microsoft getting even more of a free hand in its dealings with competitors (and certain European governments). And even a witchhunt of free culture proponents isn’t excluded.

    I’m not saying, of course, that all this will flow from a single fleeting comment. What I am saying is that this public statement may reveal Microsoft’s strategy for dealing with certain of its opponents, one that it pursues privately for the most part.

    So, while it may have only been a stupid statement; judging on the basis of who benefits, it might have been something else indeed. Something that needs to be taken seriously.

  • http://www.robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    GSM. GSM is indeed the product of a patent cartel. Fortunately for it, it has a large established user base to cannibalise rather than having to compete with any alternatives at all, never mind more open alternatives. Unfortunately for it, it still has a lower percentage of its market than the Internet has of its. Go figure.

    MP3. Most people don’t realise that MP3 is patent-encumbered, because most people don’t pay a license themselves. Including most software developers. Using a format that owes its popularity to widespread patent piracy to argue in favour of proprietary technology is kinda counterproductive.

    A better example would be the internet versus Compuserve. As we know, the proprietary Compuserve service wiped out the Internet. If only AOL had dropped its rival proprietary service and become part of Compuserve rather than trying to become an ISP, history would have been so different…

    Meanwhile, Adobe’s rotting codebase is not a good example for proprietary software. Paying ever higher upgrade fees for ever reduced benefits cannot make good financial sense even to Three Blind Mice. CinePaint (nee Film Gimp) is a good example of where the market for graphics software is going: Open Source. And I say this as a MacOSX Illustrator CS user…

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

    From an NYT article:
    “In the 19th century, the United States was both a rapidly industrializing nation and � as Charles Dickens, among others, knew all too well � a bold pirate of intellectual property.”

  • anon

    I just don�t agree with you.

    That which one man has invented, all the world can imitate. Without the assistance of the laws, the inventor would almost always be driven out of the market by his rival, who finding himself, without any expense, in possession of a discovery which has cost the inventor much time and expense, would be able to deprive him of all his de-served advantages, by selling at a lower price.
    Jeremy Bentham, 1843

    this is also true for the IT-sector

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

    Jeremy Bentham was, like Charles Dickens, an Englishman. Charles toured the US in vain to get us to adopt international intellectual property laws. Of course, it was laughably against our national interest, so we did nothing until 1891 when it became in our interest.

  • http://www.mutualist.org/ Kevin Carson

    This is a dog-bites-man story.

    I’m not sure why you’d expect Bill Gates to give an intellectually honest response to critiques of the very kind of pseudo-property that made him rich. Every great once in a while you see the son of a landlord (e.g., Tolstoy or Kropotkin) repudiating their own class interest by crying “the land to the tillers!” But such selflessness is no more to be expected than a wolf who takes to eating turnips out of compassion for the sheep.

    Why would you expect Bill Gates to be more critical of “intellectual property” [sic] than are Jack Valenti and Dan Glickman? Why expect the landlord to be a less zealous defender of absentee ownership than his bailiff? Valenti and Glickman are only the hired guns of those who got rich from copyright. Gates is one of the kind of people those thugs are representing.

  • Ed Lyons

    How can there be comments *here* agreeing with Gates’ position? To dismiss all people who disagree with the corporate holders of intellectual property as being against private property or profit is absurd. To insist that the only way to create value from ideas is to grant IP protection is also unjustified. There are certain technologies that require massive investment to be valuable (such as tech that would be useful in space tourism). But why does a song or computer code need such lengthy protection? Oddly enough, the incredible technology of space ship one will only be protected for a small fraction of the time of a Britney Spears song. Microsoft has computer code that will be protected by copyright until 2080. Will your great-great-great grandchildren be running Windows 98 on an 85-year old Pentium III? Will they be listening to “Ooops, I did it again?” using Version 2 of the Windows Media Player on that machine? Does this make sense to anyone?

    Professor Lessig has spilled much ink showing alternatives to the system we have now and I find it strange that readers of this blog do not understand it.

  • http://www.breakmychains.com j

    Gates can’t be escaped from, although this may be a solution:
    http://www.breakmychains.com

  • zephyr1256

    Max, I just read the article you linked to about hiring bias for teaching positions in law schools, and I was noticed this line of interest:

    Applicants with conservative lines on their resume — an Olin fellowship, Federalist Society membership, or, heaven help you, a Scalia clerkship — thus tend to be passed over no matter how sterling the rest of their credentials may be.

    Now obviously experience like a legal clerkship(which doesn’t necessarily imply that you share beliefs with a justice you worked for, I think, but potentially could get you flagged) is something that is relevant to such a resume, and I’m not sure about the others listed. Generally, putting controversial items on a resume, like campaign work for a party, is a bad idea on resumes(unless it is directly relevant and you know that it will help you), because you don’t know what biases the person who reads your resume may have(and especially if you know any such biases are likely to be negative).

    I will say I do not know what people(of any political slant) put on their resumes when applying for such positions, including what people who get the positions have on their resumes, but I do know that my little resume handbook does recommend specifically avoiding controversial items where possible. Another important point is that resumes should not be too long; if adding irrelevant controversial memberships and indicators of political affiliation makes your resume stretch on to a third page, you’ve likely shot yourself in the foot because the resume is too long(again, I don’t know if this applies to many conservatives’ resumes that are getting rejected, but it gives another reason to avoid controversial items).

  • blaze

    Ed Lyons -

    Most people here are familar with Lessig’s arguments. And they are strong and good.

    Unfortunately, optics often reveal the conflict he is having with his fundamental philosophy and the lack of clear declaration that the rights of the creator are sacrosanct are showing that Lessig is not sure who to trust. Does he trust the community (ie: the process) or does he trust the creator?

    And this is *exactly* why Bill Gates can easily and successfully bait Lessig (which should be obvious just by his poorly worded rebuttal).

    What Lessig must come to terms is that he must trust that some creators will give away their technology for free.

    Some of the greatest creators in the world just dig it when people use their work and they get zero monetary compensation.

    However quite a few of these Creators want to see other people forced to give any modifications away for free.

    Forced being the keyword here.

    In order to force other people into an action when they utilize your content, you need to have ultimate respect for the desires and intentions for the original creator of those works.

    Again, the desires of the original creator are sacrosanct. When we start weakening regular copyright law all we are doing is weakening the GPL, Creative Commons, and what not. In fact, GPL makes the argument itself – it relies on strong copyright (the rights of the creator are sacrosanct).

    The problem you see, is that Lessig does not shout out that he trusts the creators. He does not shout out his trust that they know when to Copryight, GPL, or Creative Commons something .. the impression he leaves is the one that Bill Gates is pouncing on.

    I personally believe that Lessig *does* trust creators of content. Unfortunately, he’s not making that 100% clear .. no doubt because he doesn’t want to offend his buddies in the FSF camp. This is a terrible mistake. Stallman is dead wrong – software does not have to be free:

    Some software does, some software doesn’t. Empower the creators and let them decide.

  • Max Lybbert

    Zephyr, I remember reading that article, but to be honest, I can’t find where I posted to it, so I really can’t remember what point I was trying to make.

    Yes, you’re right that putting down something like “did legal work for the ACLU” does imply something about your political views. If you choose to include it on your resume, you should recognize that. But, in an environment where the professors constantly talk about not wanting to kill any student viewpoints, does it make sense for those same professors to block the hiring of a qualified candidate because of “incompatible” politics?

    Lessig is rightly proud of his clerkship for Judge Posner, and Renquhist is proud of his clerking for the Supreme Court (I can’t recal which justice he clerked for right now). Should a law school professor have to put down “clerked for an unnamed Supreme Court judge” on his resume if the judge happened to be recognized as one of the more conservative on the bench?

  • http://conservatorblog.com Jack Stephens

    Is Gates merely “red-baiting” when he refers to “communists”?

    The “Free Culture Manifesto” (!) at Freeculture.org, linked from the site for Lessig’s book of the same name, begins:

    “The mission of the Free Culture movement is to build a bottom-up, participatory structure to society and culture, rather than a top-down, closed, proprietary structure.”

    And is not opposition to “proprietary structures” a defining theme of communism?

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

    NYT article on IBM creating a new “patent commons”:

    “I.B.M. executives said they hoped the company’s initial contribution of 500 patents would be the beginning of a ‘patent commons,’ which other companies would join. I.B.M. has not yet approached other companies, Mr. Stallings said.”

    I didn’t know IBM was so communistic. Now, that 500 is less than 1/6 the patents they gained in 2004, and it’s nowhere near time to break out the bubbly stuff. But that certainly adds the punchline to Microsoft’s comments.

    Will some claim that IBM’s “hurting” intellectual property holders with this “cynical” move? That’s the response to expect when someone does something which doesn’t fit the normal pattern for extracting profit.

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

    Incidentally, when people say “communism,” they usually are criticizing “democracy.” Democratic, participatory structures stand in contrast to the dictatorship top-down model, which I’m sad to say is the model over 99% of huge public companies are built on.

  • http://wolli.blogspot.com wolli

    Most people speaking here seem to have trouble differentiating “communism” from “the system that existed in the Soviet Union”. I posted a longer article in my blog about how the BSA, the RIAA, and their likes have actually started to resemble the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Union — in a way.

  • Relentless

    Yes, Gates is trying to use bad labels to sway public opinion without a real debate, however it isn’t a new tactic, and it isn’t targeted at all those dumb “red staters.”

    Mr. Lybbert,

    I did look over the link you posted (and much of the other “information” provided on the site). I’m not entirely sure citing someone who refers to their intellectual opposition as “dillweeds”, “quacks” and “dudes” would really be the best way to argue that “red staters” are intellectual on par or superior to “blue staters.”

    Setting the source itself aside for the moment, there is little doubt that many areas of the country voted patently against their own economic self-interest in the last election and in the 2000 election as well. The Bush tax cuts have proven to be huge corporate gains to companies and their primary shareholders… and little more than a few hundred dollars petty cash to the average citizen.

    One might argue with a straight face that voting for Bush even against economic self-interest was a prudent thing to do because other issues were more important to the voter, but there is no question that vast numbers of rural poor citizens cast votes (if Diebold is to be believed) for a candidate that clearly did more to harm them than help them financially. One needs look no further than the unemployment rolls to see this phenomona. A man with no job voting for the same President to be re-elected is akin to a football player with no helmet and a serious concussion voting for the same team equipment manager next season.

    Tell me Gates is a genius, tell me open source *is* communism, tell me steadfast support of existing trademark provisions is essential to a capitalist society and motivating innovators…. but dont tell me that Bush has the economic interests of the rural poor in the red states anywhere on his radar screen… and dont even attempt to insinuate that Gates is giving an honest accounting of what he believes to be best for the country and the world…. not because id disagree subjectively but because the objective facts simply wont let you pass the laugh test with those arguments.

    Gates is seeking greater wealth, without regard for innovation for invention or for inclusion. Those 3 little “I” words scare him just as much as the “C” word scares those red staters he is trying to agitate.

    Pitch-forks and torches are not the way for the masses to decide whether open source is a hopelessly defunct ecomonic ideal or a wave of enlightenment capable of lifting the world economy and expanding the pie large enough for all of us to take a bite.

    Honest discussion with an open mind is the only way to discuss open source… and “catchgirl” clearly doesnt have that or a grip on the facts.

  • Alex

    I’d like to put out a suggestion (I see Ed Lyons mentioned it above): If you use Internet Explorer to browse the web, switch to Firefox.

    http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/

    It’s one direct way to stop supporting Bill Gates.

  • Max Lybbert

    WARNING: VERY LONG POST

    Relentless, I’m not mad that you went snooping around. Many of my comments here are meant to try to draw people out of their echo chambers. I just couldn’t remember linking to that particular post.

    On the larger issue, I truly believe that voting for Bush is in my economic self-interest, and I am far from rich.

    /* The Bush tax cuts have proven to be huge corporate gains to companies and their primary shareholders… and little more than a few hundred dollars petty cash to the average citizen.
    */

    Did you notice that little part (of my original post) where it said more people pay no tax or “negative tax”? The numbers were the same ones Kerry used during he campaign, BTW. Since the AMT is meant to make sure rich people pay tax, those paying no tax (and negative tax) are poor. Paying no tax or negative tax is in my economic self interest.

    But the corporate tax cuts had a specific purpose: to free up money so that corporations could produce more. Some corporations did that through hiring, many did that through technology upgrades. However increased supply (with constant demand) leads to lower prices (and, yes, increased profits, but still with lower prices). Lower prices are in my economic self interest.

    The unemployment rate when Bush took office was low (and Clinton does deserve credit for that). Everybody who was looking knew a recession was coming or had already come. You may recall that Bush campaigned on tax cuts to stave off the recession (and to starve the government beast), but sold the cuts as a way to recover from the mild recession.

    I have a book by Charles Schwab about investing. During the ’90s, Schwab said that it is his experience that business cycles run three years. So a recession starting in early 2001 should have lasted until 2004. Lo and behold, even with the collapse of the WTC (and its associated infrastructure), that’s what happened. Did the tax cuts get us out of the recession? I don’t think so, although I do believe they kept us from applying the brakes to a weak economy. Staying out of the way of a recovering economy is also in my economic self interest.

    Oh, and today’s unemployment rate is almost equal to what it was when Bush took office. That incredibly low rate is also in my economic self interest.

    I’m in my mid-twenties. It is well-known that Social Security will need major cuts by the 2040s, and since I won’t be able to retire until the 2060s (under today’s rules), there won’t be anything around to fund my retirement. In other words, over the next forty years, I’ll pay for everyone’s retirement but my own. Bush wants to make it possible for me to invest some of my money so that I can pay for my own retirement as well. That sounds like something in my economic self interest.

    And that doesn’t even take into account what I originally linked to: the fact that the Social Security Trust Fund is “invested” in US Treasury Bonds. There is nothing wrong about bonds, but realize that we are talking about the government borrowing money from itself, and making assumptions that it will pay back that money in the future.

    And we have less than ten years until the government needs to start making good on those bonds to keep Social Security solvent. Where will the money come from? Perhaps we could repeal those Bush Tax Cuts. Then again, the government was borrowing from the Trust Fund long before the tax cuts were passed. In other words, the tax cuts aren’t the problem, and repealing them won’t save the system. What proposals are Democrats floating around that are in my economic self interest?

  • Alex

    I don’t know about Democrats, but how about just a couple proposals from people who are left of center:

    -Allow US citizens to get prescription drugs from Canada
    -Stop subsidies/huge tax breaks for the tobacco industry
    -Stop paying for wars that do nothing but make us less safe
    -Allow medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies (which was forbidden in Bush’s Health Care Bill)

  • Max Lybbert

    OK, I must admit that my math last night was wrong. I don’t know why I figured I would retire in 2060. Under current law, I will retire right about 2050. I truly believe that will inch up in the next forty years.

    In response to Alex:

    /* Allow US citizens to get prescription drugs from Canada
    */

    Canada opposes this.

    /* Stop subsidies/huge tax breaks for the tobacco industry
    */

    This will entail a buyout of rights. In other words a large one-time payment. I support this, especially since my in-laws will receive a good amount of money for the rights to their tobacco farm. I believe the President supports this as well.

    /* Stop paying for wars that do nothing but make us less safe
    */

    Can you propose any such wars?

    Afghanistan?

    Iraq? How much less safe are you now that there is a war on the other side of the world? Did you factor in Libya’s decision to stop funding terrorism? How about the sudden drop in Palestinian suicide bombers who no longer get money from Saddam?

    The War on Drugs? Did those drugs pass the same levels of quality control that ephedra, Vioxx and Celebrex did? Would an increase in supply of unsafe drugs make me more safe? How?

    /* Allow medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies (which was forbidden in Bush’s Health Care Bill)
    */

    This would be good for my economic self interest, so I have to give it to you. That is, if we both don’t believe the drug companies when they say that the reduced profits would result in less money for research. And we both have to ignore Lessig’s position that high-priced drugs in the US can pay for low-priced drugs in Africa (or Canada, for that matter).

  • Max Lybbert

    Looking over my reply to Alex, I realized that I ignored tax breaks to the tobacco industry. As a rule, I oppose targeted tax breaks, and would support efforts to repeal them. Republicans only use them to get Southern voter support.

    The subsidies come from a quota system that can only be ended with a buyout. My in-laws have been waiting for several years for this to happen.

    I would also like to see an end to subsidies and tax breaks that keep family farms open. I know it sounds callous, but if you can only remain in business because the government props up your prices, then the market is trying to get you to change businesses.

    Should we have kept human switchboard operators around after there were better ways to do the job? My aunt had one of those jobs, and made decent money plugging in wires to connect people to whom they wanted to talk with. However computers do a better job at it, and my aunt was able to find a different job that required the same amount of intelligence and paid just as well. I can’t understand why the government works so hard to encourage people to use inneficient business methods.

  • Alex

    “Canada opposes this.” I haven’t heard that they oppose it, but I’m sure they are worried that they will run short of supply if the US consumer is added. But I believe the US vendors will lower their prices as a result of the competition. Also, Canada opposed the Iraq war since they and most others knew there were no WMDs or ties to al Quaeda. Their opposition didn’t stop this administration before. War must trump health in their view.

    I think we are in agreement on the tax breaks. I find it very curious how the right tends to attack the left by calling them communists (hi Bill Gates). Meanwhile, the right is happy to do un-capitalistic things like give huge subsidies for inefficient corporations.

    I was implying the Iraq war in particular. The main part of my point was that the war does nothing for US citizens. And that if it does anything, it makes us less safe. I think its easy to say with the torture, the bombing and killing of civilians, the privatization of the whole country, that the average Iraqi is happy to make us pay if they have the chance. In the meantime, what does Joe and Jane American get out of it? Just a huge bill. I don’t know if you can tie Palestinian bombings to Iraq. I have never seen evidence of this. I don’t know how to feel about Libya, I guess its a good thing. Although I don’t think Iraq had anything to do with it. The war on drugs doesn’t have to be a war. Its like the war on terrorism to me. There will never be an end to either of them, by definition. We have to be smart about this, and war is the least tactful way of going about it. “Will increasing supply of drugs make you more safe?” Yes, by lowering the prices, there will no longer be the mass amount of violence over drugs. (It sounds like you agree with me here too from your point about Vioxx, etc, but I’m not sure)

  • Rob

    Max Lybbert bloviated (I love that word):

    But the corporate tax cuts had a specific purpose: to free up money so that corporations could produce more. Some corporations did that through hiring, many did that through technology upgrades. However increased supply (with constant demand) leads to lower prices (and, yes, increased profits, but still with lower prices). Lower prices are in my economic self interest.

    Also, some (many?) corporations used their newly “freed-up” tax money to give out huge bonuses to their upper management. Don’t forget them…and aside from the corporate tax cuts, how about the non-corporate tax cuts? Yes everyone got a tax cut; but the richest people got more of a tax cut in total dollars than those less fortunate (in many cases, their tax cut was more than my total salary). Where did that money go? Not to defense or law enforcement or health care or scientific research, all things the government provides. So while tax cuts may appear to be in my parochial economic self-interest, the resultant loss of services is almost assuredly not. Not a problem, the administration didn’t cut services much; instead, they simply let the deficit balloon out of all comprehension, told us “deficits don’t matter” and pretended we could have our cake and eat it too. Those chickens will start coming home to roost (how many metaphors can Rob squeeze into one post) when foreign governments decide to cease propping up our economy by financing our monstrous debt. At that point we’ll be in for a rude awakening.

    It is well-known that Social Security will need major cuts by the 2040s

    Oh, so? Certainly it’s a well-known assertion. But is it true?

    Bush wants to make it possible for me to invest some of my money so that I can pay for my own retirement as well. That sounds like something in my economic self interest.

    Sure, if you’re a Wall Street investment guru (or you know one). Regular schmucks like me who don’t know beans about stocks are going to lose our shirts; what’s Bush’s answer for us? And in the meantime, we’re diverting a significant chunk out of the SS system which will bring its insolvency date much closer; is that what we want to be doing? It’s like strapping on a parachute (how about a simile this time) and jumping out of a plane that is gliding along towards an emergency landing; if the parachute works, great, if it doesn’t, you’re in for a nasty smack you could have avoided by staying on the plane. Much better I think to stay on the plane and try to glide it in safely, especially if the plane is otherwise sound and has a decent pilot aboard.

  • Max Lybbert

    I finally have a chance to reply. I’ve been busy for the last few weeks, so the days of ten replies on three posts are long gone.

    First to Alex:

    Getting drugs from Canada is not about buying Canadian-made drugs. The Canadian government buys drugs to resell through its medical care system (or it puts a price cap on drug prices, I’m not sure which, but in the end the difference doesn’t matter). Canada also buys drugs from countries and companies not approved by the US FDA. The proposals to buy US-made drugs from Canada are simply an attempt to free-ride on the system. Drug companies would likely respond by limiting drugs sold to Canada, or raising prices on drugs sold to Canada. So it’s no surprise that Canada doesn’t want this on a large scale. I don’t know what Canada could do if the US went ahead — I’m not sure if the WTO would handle this.

    If the US system is broken, it should be fixed in the US. I am not opposed to fixes, so long as repurcussions are looked at. Fewer new drugs may not be such a problem, because many new drugs aren’t as effective as old ones. The problem, of course, is that it’s impossible to determine how effective a drug will be before spending lots of money on research.

    ***
    I figured you were referring to the Iraq war, and I can’t argue that the war hasn’t had an effect on the safety of the soldiers involved, but all wars do.

    /* I think its easy to say with the torture, the bombing and killing of civilians, the privatization of the whole country, that the average Iraqi is happy to make us pay if they have the chance.
    */

    Perhaps it is easy to say, but I don’t think that has any effect on my safety. There may be a case that the military is overextended, but the countries with the ability to attack have no motive, and the countries with a motive don’t have the ability. North Korea may not be able to attack the US, but it can attack South Korea or Japan. However, South Korea and Japan both have sufficient forces to handle any attack on their own unless China gets involved. Since China has stopped shipping oil to North Korea for a few days as a way of pressuring it to negotiate with the US, I don’t think that’s likely.

    There may be more terrorists in the world today, but that is hard to really know without attacks. It’s a he-said/she-said problem.

    /* I don’t know if you can tie Palestinian bombings to Iraq. I have never seen evidence of this.
    */

    Well, Iraq isn’t the only possible factor. The IDF has built large portions of the wall it’s working on, and that has definitely had an effect. However the incentive to attack because Saddam would send a fat check to your survivors has disappeared.

    /* I don’t know how to feel about Libya, I guess its a good thing. Although I don’t think Iraq had anything to do with it.
    */

    Given that Ghadaffi he was afraid of the US before actually surrendering to the US, and handing over his WMD operations (which the US now has), I think there’s a connection.

    ***

    /* [On the war on drugs:] “Will increasing supply of drugs make you more safe?” Yes, by lowering the prices, there will no longer be the mass amount of violence over drugs. (It sounds like you agree with me here too from your point about Vioxx, etc, but I’m not sure).
    */

    There isn’t as much profit in illegal drugs as there once was, but violence hasn’t gone down. The days of $5,000/once crack are over, but that didn’t lead to less drug-related violence. When I was in high school ten years ago, most students bought pot $5 at a time. I don’t think the dealers ever made much profit off that. Since high school students today have roughly the same amount of spending money, I doubt that dealers are making any more than they used to. Sure, they spend it on flashy items, but I don’t think all that much money is there.

    I believe most prohibited drugs are too dangerous to not ban; just as silicone breast implants are banned decause of the health risks. However, instead of quibbling over which drugs aren’t as dangerous, I chose to use FDA regulation as practical evidence that legalizing (and regulating) drugs won’t help.

    Illegal drugs are currently regulated as drugs, and are illegal because the health risks don’t outweigh the health benefits. Legalizing drugs would involve regulating them as food (like herbal supplements are). That regulaation has many safety problems, and the FDA continually states that it doesn’t have the money to enforce the regulations that do exist. Since regulation is defined as requirements that people wouldn’t follow otherwise, legal drug prices would increase over black market drugs, and we’d be back to square one.

    If drug purity sounds like a red herring, let me assure you that I used to work with an ex-convict who would raise pocket money by selling a flour mixture that looked like crack. No, he didn’t have repeat buyers, but yes he did exist.

  • Relentless

    I�m doing my best to avoid having a debate about the last two Presidential elections and instead to try and keep my comments here germane to the topic of the original blog post.

    Only in so far as it relates to the statements by Bill Gates that open source is tantamount to Communism, there is little doubt that Mr. Gates sees the distinct difference between Communism and open source. There is no doubt he understands that more malleable intellectual property rights do not create an unchangeable economic trajectory toward “collective ownership” and the overthrow of capitalism.

    More importantly, it would be foolhardy to think that Mr. Gates is somehow unaware of the hysterical connotations the American Public associates with claims that something is tilting us toward Communism.

    My point all along is not that “red staters” are stupid, my point is that Gates is not stupid. He isn�t misunderstanding what open source is about. He isn�t presenting a countervailing world view with a different set of underpinnings aimed at creating a better society.

    He is, albeit shrewdly, seeking to frame the question in such a manner so as to preclude the kind of debate that serious people with differing views ought to engage in with regard to intellectual property rights.

    Those who brush off his comments are no better than those who take them to be some kind of altruistic attempt to reach a better end result. He is, as his track record clearly demonstrates, only seeking to smear and pigeon-hole those who have views that would erode his personal wealth and powerbase.

    It is our job to elevate the discussion, to strip away the idiotic labels of communism and of greed that both sides wrongly seek to employ. Had Lessig stated anyone against open source is just being greedy id have been just as agitated as I am by Gates comments that anyone who is pro-open source is some kind of communist.

    Gates ought to be ashamed, not for his views or for defending his fortune, but for sublimating his views and seeking to defend his fortune with disingenuous labels he himself knows to be both false and unduly inflammatory.

  • Max Lybbert

    I agree with you, Relentless. To a point. Gates is known to say inflamatory things, and has called his own executives communist for wanting to give away free things. He’s just spouting off at the mouth.

    I like open source because I see it as a free market question (or rather, a free market solution to a free market problem [monopolized software and the relevant lack of innovation]). People in my camp often like open source more than Free Software, and people outside my camp prefer Free Software.

  • http://troyworman.blogspot.com Troy Worman

    You really don’t like Bill Gates do you?

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