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Sender: "Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
From: "Crispen, Bob" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 14:53:10 -0600
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Reply-To: "Crispen, Bob" <[log in to unmask]>
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Robert C. Leif, Ph.D. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] sez:

>I believe that the founding fathers of the USA would have
>approved of both software patents and copyrights.

Well, that's unknowable, I think, but certainly they were
favorable to the notion of using the monopoly power of the
Crown in our government for the same purpose: to promote
the useful arts.  But, in keeping with their democratic
principles, they limited copyrights and patents.  While you
might get a monopoly from the King for the sale of wool in
London during the King's pleasure, you can only get a
monopoly for a limited time in the U.S., and only for
something new.

>In any event, I believe that some of you share the same stereotype of
>scientists and intellectuals. Please understand, that this type of
>intellectual activity has its antecedents in medieval monks. These
>individuals took oaths of poverty, chastity, and obedience. I
>am against all 3.

Personally, or as a matter of principle?  See, here's where
the problem lies, I think.  If you believe that *nobody*
should practice poverty, chastity, or obedience, then you're
being very logically consistent in supporting Microsoft's
drive to exempt all software produced for the government
from licenses that would restrict their wholesale taking of
it.  If you've merely decided that PC&O are not for you,
then you aren't.

I happen to think that there are occasions where all three
are virtues.  For instance, I do not have a cell phone to my
ear during church services so that I might call my broker
and thereby take advantage of every minute of every day to
further enrich myself.  The overwhelming majority of us
practice chastity in the office and while on trips.  And
both in military and civilian life I think we're better off
practicing a certain amount of obedience -- within reason
(some speed limits as marked do not appeal to our angelic

>There is no rational reason why I should make money from my
>histochemical inventions and not make money on equivalent
>software innovation. Professors, by custom, keep the royalties
>on their textbooks. What makes this type of writing socially
>superior to the text necessary to instruct computers to
>perform processes and permit humans to understand these
>processes (software)?

If you want to get money for software or writing or even for
being incredibly cute, I have zero problems with that.
Anything that helps your unfolding as a human being gets my
vote, and I'm neither smart enough nor foolish enough to think
that I know what that is for you.

But when you want to restrict the behavior of a program manager
so that she can license software paid for by the public only in
a way that improves the shareholder value for MSFT (or anybody
else -- Microsoft is merely the present issue), well, I guess I
do have a problem with that.

I think the devil is in the details.  We can talk about
anecdotal evidence till the cows come home, but I think the
right answer for licensing the code of a particular program
is just that -- the right answer for a particular program.
And maybe the granularity of the right answer is even finer
than that.

When we try to overgeneralize and make policies that will,
like the bed of Procrustes, cover all kinds of software
produced with the public's money for the government, then I
think we get stupid.
Bob Crispen
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