[ExI] Fwd: [Open Manufacturing] Re: [Cosmic Engineers] Re: It is all free! The improbable dream?

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Wed Aug 5 22:44:04 UTC 2009

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com>
Date: Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 5:35 PM
Subject: [Open Manufacturing] Re: [Cosmic Engineers] Re: It is all
free! The improbable dream?
To: openmanufacturing at googlegroups.com

Kevin Carson wrote:
> On 8/5/09, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is not altogether clear.  There are not a lot of examples of Open
>> Source or equivalent  hardware design that beats out proprietary efforts.
> The question should not be whether open source projects can beat out
> proprietary ones where the latter exist and their patents are
> enforceable, any more than the abolitionist movement was about
> outcompeting slavery with free labor and "may the best man win."
> Slavery should not exist at all, and neither should patents or
> copyrights.

That's a powerful point, taking the moral high ground.

You might want to develop that analogy. When I tried it once, I got some
pushback but in the end, I think you *can* show how patents and copyrights
directly injure and kill people in various ways.

My first tries were here:
"License management tools: good, bad, or ugly?"

Example of something I wrote back in 2001 and a reply on it showing it did
not go over well:
 >Metaphorically, consider "slave" files and "free" files. Our current
 >copyright system is now in some ways like the American South before the
 >Civil War where black people (or now "creative works") were often
 >assumed to be a runaway slave unless they had their papers of freedom
 >with them (or a pass from the slave holder).
This kind of comparison is very similar to invoking the Nazi's.  I
find it very hard to take such metaphors seriously.  In fact I find
them offensive.

I apologized, but, as I thought about it more and more, whatever one might
think of that specific analogy, I really saw there were many very direct
analogies related to denying people information for whatever financial
reason and aspects of slavery (given we live in such a digital age now). One
of the big issues with slaves were they were kept from learning reading and
writing in order to keep them down, so, they had no knowledge of what was
contained in written letters or passes or contracts about themselves they
were commanded to carry, and they also could not alter them (so, analogies
to proprietary formats, DRM and "trusted" computing, chilling effects of
overly broad interpretation of copyright supressing creativity, or even
regular copyright suppressing creativity, laws against circumventing DRM and
such). Likewise, people are denied access to lifesaving information about
medical care (copyrights), or lifesaving drugs produced for cheap (patents),
which directly are killing people or causing them to suffer needlessly.
Further, patents and copyright make it harder for people like us to
collaborate on building a sustainable world, which causes untold suffering
on humans and the natural world. So, there actually are many parallels in
the general concept to the effects of slavery. Anyway, when I frame the
issue in those terms, nobody complains. :-)

I still feel that specific analogy above fits the circumstances of the
economic interests demanding proof on their terms (RIAA, SPA), and may more
and more fit the facts of daily life for sentient creatures as copyrights
and patents come to cover the human genome, artificial intelligences, or
even just mind-extensions like Google.

--Paul Fernhout

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "Open Manufacturing" group.
To post to this group, send email to openmanufacturing at googlegroups.com
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
openmanufacturing+unsubscribe at googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list