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Stallman On the UK Digital Economy Bill 228

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-bits-for-you dept.
superapecommando submitted a blog entry written by Stallman about the UK's bandwidth initiatives. RMS says "When I read about Gordon Brown's plan to give the UK more broadband, I couldn't restrain my laughter. Isn't this the same clown now busy circumventing democracy to take away broadband from Britons who already have it? And what good would broadband do them if they're punished for using it (or even being suspected of using it)? Laying cables would be a waste of resources if people are not allowed to use them. Brown did suggest another possible use for broadband. He said that it would enable MPs to better communicate with their constituents and keep track of what they want."
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Stallman On the UK Digital Economy Bill

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:03AM (#31746966)

    Does anyone give a fuck what some dumbass hippy who has some cushy university job and doesn't understand business thinks?

    That dumb prick should grow up, shave and geta fucking job like the rest of us. Including those who work to produce content that dumbass hippy thinks should be free.

    Get a clue stallman.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:03AM (#31746970)
    Richard Stallman will always find something to complain about if something even hints at the possibility of not completely adhering to his myopic point of views and mentality. This isn't news, it's in my horoscope every day.
  • by middlemen (765373) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:05AM (#31746984) Homepage

    Richard Stallman will always find something to complain about if something even hints at the possibility of not completely adhering to his myopic point of views and mentality. This isn't news, it's in my horoscope every day.

    Look who's talking!

  • On Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:11AM (#31747040)
    "Sharing is good" - I love how Stallman is once again so open with other peoples creations as well as his own. If you want to share, why not simply stick to sharing those things you are allowed to? But oh no, that's not good enough - the 'people' must be allowed to share *everything*.

    My 1992 proposal for a special tax to be distributed to artists, with the money partly shifted from the most popular ones towards those not quite so successful, is still applicable.

    Yup, I have just read that and its a pile of crap - the whole idea seems to be to reward those who are successful less and less, and reward those who are failing more. Why are those who are popular less deserving of those who are not? This isn't some politically correct playschool, where everyone holds hands to cross the line together at sports day rather than crown a sole winner - no, this is real life.

    Now, I am against this Bill (and have written, faxed and phoned by MP - she will be calling for more discussion and consultation), but Stallman and his stance isn't the answer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:13AM (#31747054)

    or maybe the security cameras need broadband. and the traffic sensors that read the rfid in your tires to track you. When they say it's to keep better track of the voters they're probably telling (part of) the truth.

  • by brindleboar (1154019) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:13AM (#31747064)
    For anything that politicians will actually pay attention to, I should think that a 56Kb dialup would be sufficient.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:21AM (#31747120)

    This topic is just another pro-Conservative Party whine. The Digital Economy bill is very good in a lot of ways but would certainly benefit from being balanced with reform of competition law and increased access. At the time of writing Labour have proposed that Trading Standards look into reforming competition law, and Labour is aiming for universal access to broadband. In contrast, the Conservative party only this week opposed a bill to combat corporate corruption and will give a free ride to ISP's by allowing them to cherry pick investment which only favours the slice of the population living in high density urban areas. Conservative opposition to a growth led recovery and forcing victims of the recession onto workfare will rip what internet access and work opportunities people do have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:21AM (#31747130)
    I actually stopped reading when RMS started calling people clowns and saying that they aren't going to allow people to use their broadband. Name calling? Really? Then following it by saying they won't let people use the broadband while forgetting that they just mean people who violate copyright and get caught several times? Stuff this well balanced belongs on Faux News. Sorry RMS, I didn't finish reading the article because you write like a clown. (couldn't resist...)
  • by b4upoo (166390) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:27AM (#31747178)

    Governmental types simply can not stand the idea of free and open communications. I have always maintained that there would be a point where all governments would seek to stifle the net. I am not an anarchist but I do believe that even when one is lucky enough to have a good government that that same government will seek to expand and control more territory as well as to have more and more control over all people within its domain.
                        If I were to predict a tipping point where the iron hand becomes really visible it would be when we have easy, ultra secure, encryption. At that point the assumption will be that every communication just might be terrorist or treasonous in nature.

  • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:31AM (#31747228) Homepage

    When I was brought up in Wales in the 1980s, I felt that Cymdeithas yr Iaith (the Welsh Language Society) were making unreasonable demands in their campaigning. And I still do to an extent.

    But, in the 1960s and earlier, the right for Welsh people to speak and learn in their mother tongue was a serious civil rights issue. By the 1980s things had improved greatly, largely thanks to the activities of Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

    I think that by continuing to maintain pressure, perhaps for demands that are a step too far, they prevent the pendulum from swinging back to where it was in the 60s.

    I think the same goes for Stallman. Many people benefit from Free Software. Many people would be satisfied for a less pure Free Software world than Stallman demands. But without Stallman's purist stance, the average would shift to a less free position. I wouldn't want that.

  • Re:On Stallman (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:32AM (#31747240)

    (...) why not simply stick to sharing those things you are allowed to? But oh no, that's not good enough - the 'people' must be allowed to share *everything*.

    (Sith) Lord Mandelson, is that you? Please enlighten us what we are allowed and not allowed to share!

    Its called copyright, and you are more than welcome to create something of your own and grant permission to others to distribute it - why this overwhelming sense of entitlement about needing to be able to distribute other peoples works against their will?

    I see my other post is marked as a troll - interesting how dissenting viewpoints and opinions simply aren't allowed here any more.

    The argument against copyright is a fair one - but it almost completely seems to orientate around other peoples copyrighted works, and being able to distribute those works freely. Its certainly has a sense of 'I want what they are selling, but I don't want to pay them what they are asking for it, they should take what I am willing to offer and nothing else, but in any case I should still be entitled to their work' and I don't like that one little bit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:33AM (#31747252)

    How does pragmatism get to the endpoint? If you pragmatically go with mixing, then there's no need from those who want propriatory to go any further. So how do you get to the state you SAY (not believe) you want: all software should be Free?

  • Re:On Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kestasjk (933987) * on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:38AM (#31747294) Homepage
    Welcome to slashdot, where if you disagree with the majority you are modded troll.

    I've watched Stallman's talks and while he has some good thoughts he has some completely absurd ones, and his government allocation for artists idea is one of them.
    He proposed giving artists an income according to the cube root of their popularity, so smaller artists are better supported and larger ones much less supported. Do people really think this is a realistic idea? How could it be implemented? If it's done by taxes how do you stop artists going overseas? Do people really want such strict government control on art of all things? How popular would you have to be to get the minimum artists income subsidized by the highest earners?

    Can't we agree/disagree with ideas rather than agree/disagree with people? Just because he made some software you use and like is absolutely no reason to give his political views any more weight than someone ranting on a street corner.
  • by headkase (533448) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:38AM (#31747296)
    Very good point. I'd like to also mix in that Open as a model is firmly on its feet now. It would take an act of law saying it is illegal to share your effort with your neighbor to stop it. Stallman was and is needed as you say: today he has more voices harmonizing with his message in different flavors. He's succeeded, they can't all be silenced now.
  • Re:On Stallman (Score:2, Insightful)

    by selven (1556643) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:39AM (#31747304)

    "Sharing is good" - I love how Stallman is once again so open with other peoples creations as well as his own. If you want to share, why not simply stick to sharing those things you are allowed to? But oh no, that's not good enough - the 'people' must be allowed to share *everything*

    Stallman doesn't recognize the idea that other people's (digital) creations belong to their creators. They belong to the people.

    Yup, I have just read that and its a pile of crap - the whole idea seems to be to reward those who are successful less and less, and reward those who are failing more. Why are those who are popular less deserving of those who are not?

    So you would prefer the current system, where 0.1% of the artists are driving around in million dollar cars to their fifty million dollar mansions and getting one or two DUIs on the way while the other 99.9% are barely making a living and thus have to get a day job and only have 3-5 hours every day to actually be creating stuff? Less social inequality is good.

  • by speculatrix (678524) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:45AM (#31747366)
    when politicians quit or get thrown out, they like to sign up a few well-paid directorships, so "oiling a few door hinges" beforehand pays dividends in the long run when they come to knock on those doors.
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:46AM (#31747374)
    The problem is, Stallman isn't talking here about sharing *your* effort, hes talking about sharing *other peoples* effort, regardless of their wishes.
  • by headkase (533448) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:53AM (#31747438)
    And perhaps he's right: maybe we should be basing our economies off of real things instead of building a house of cards to come crashing down at some future date. "Intellectual Property" could be just another bubble when China decides to collect on its trade surplus in real things.
  • Re:On Stallman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by redhog (15207) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:54AM (#31747452) Homepage
    By using the phrase "other peoples" you define the ownership, and any observations about people not respecting said ownership is therefor a tautology.

    To apreciate the arguments of both sides, please consider a clean slate - that is, a world without any laws but the ones of physics.

    Anything on top of that is a social construct, which might or might not be useful.

    To examplify your fallacy: consider the opposite argument "Nothing is new under the sun, all creative work naturally includes inspiration and parts from previous works. Locking new works under a monopoly to reproduce is theft from the collective".

    Now, I don't expect you to accept that argument, certainly not, but from a pure logical point of view it is as true as yours. They just happen to be incompatible. So, to derive any kind of objective truth in this matter, the source of the argument must come from outside the domains of these two statements.
  • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @09:57AM (#31747476)

    I actually stopped reading when RMS started calling people clowns and saying that they aren't going to allow people to use their broadband. Name calling? Really? Then following it by saying they won't let people use the broadband while forgetting that they just mean people suspected of violating copyright and get accused several times? Stuff this well balanced belongs on Faux News. Sorry RMS, I didn't finish reading the article because you write like a clown. (couldn't resist...)

    Fixed that for ya.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:02AM (#31747532)
    So my time is worthless if its spent creating something on a computer or with a microphone, as opposed to a hammer?
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:08AM (#31747618)

    "the whole idea seems to be to reward those who are successful less and less, and reward those who are failing more. "

    One of the main tenets of communism is that everyone is equal no matter what their actual abilities. Unfortunately
    denying reality didn't work for a lot of nations but you still get plenty of tax payer funded examples of this
    species of thinker in the academic world where they're sheltered from the nasty facts of reality outside the thick
    walls of their ivory towers.

    (I'll get modded down for this by some standard issue right-on teenage group-thinker but c'est la vie)

  • Re:On Stallman (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:20AM (#31747740) Homepage

    I have a much simpler argument: If a law is impossible or almost-impossible to enforce, there is something wrong with that law.

    So in a hypothetical past where forensics are worthless and it's easy to get someone alone and slit their throat without getting caught, that there should not be a law against murder?

    I think a much stronger argument is that when a huge segment of the population performs some act routinely without any sense of guilt, that's evidence that society as a whole doesn't consider it wrong. In a secular society, what can define right and wrong, except the consensus of the people? If the consensus is that something is not wrong, why is there a law against it?

  • Post Scarcity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:21AM (#31747758)
    I disagree. I believe he happened to hook onto what Information technology allows: the eradication of scarcity. Free and Open software is only possible because of information networks that make the cost of its distribution trivial. Open Source and the "Stone-Soup" parable it encapsulates is something to be studied and lessons drawn from for the inevitable period when we turn all our manufacturing over to machines and the scarcity of human labor no longer applies. What are we going to do then? I would hope that post-scarcity lessons from information networks translate well over to post-scarcity in goods and services. Otherwise we're in for a rocky ride, well that probably anyway.
  • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:33AM (#31747908) Homepage

    And can you point out any place where some people actually honestly tried to implement communism on a national level? (as contrasted with small, informal communities or modern-day communes, which can and do work sensibly)

    Look, "communism" was just a dream, a different kind of religion if you will, that some people tried to sold here and there at few point in time; without actually any intent of implementing it (apparently it was partially succesfull, seems you bought it). Similar to, say, "Land of Opportunity".

    (btw, I take it you are againt socialist funding of highways (hence few industries getting unfair advantage), airports (again) or military?)

  • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:46AM (#31748096) Homepage

    Great analogy, because the "right" to have Welsh spoken in Welsh schools was always an emotive non-issue which only seriously affected the *very* small minority of Welsh people who don't (as opposed to won't) speak any English.

    This isn't an appropriate place to have this discussion, but I don't want what you said there to be the last word. You seem to be saying that it's OK for the state to force people to be educated in their second language. OK for the state to pro-actively work to kill a language. Is it still Godwin's law if I mention the rich tapestry of languages Stalin destroyed? And we're not talking about immigrants who are bringing a non-indigenous language to the country.

    Well if "sharing is good", why can't I use GPL code in my closed-source project? Stallman only wants to "share" on his own terms - same as everyone else.

    A means to an end. Stallman would prefer it if there were no copyright, including on his own creations. As long as there *is* copyright, the GPL takes advantage of it.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @10:53AM (#31748176) Homepage

    The value of such work time is so arbitrarily determined that there is some qualitative shift happening, yes (one which changes rules fundamentally, even if we haven't adapted to them yet)

    Consider a plausible scenario: you're coding some per project or recording a song with an expectation that it should contribute to sustaining you, or in taking a bit further what you do, and that's fine of course. In 99.99+% of cases that's the best you can hope for.

    But suddenly, some time later, through some fickle whim of societal dynamics, your application or song becomes a huge hit. Mind you, your product was not bad of course...but is it really thousands times better than countless those which, while good or even much better, will remain obscure?

    Did that event suddenly made the time you've spent worth thousands time more?

  • by Dan Ost (415913) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:14AM (#31748450)

    You claim he's out of touch, yet he consistently sees dangers for what they are (or have the potential to be) long before most anyone else.

    I'm always interested to read what he has to say even if I disagree with him. I find that his world of black and white doesn't map cleanly to how I view the world, but his insights are always educational.

  • by kcbnac (854015) <kcbnac@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:53AM (#31749046)

    Exactly.

    RMS is saying what we're pondering in our own minds, but don't dare say without sounding crazy. Then down the road, society realizes perhaps "That GNU lunatic" was right - and start arguing against that which has already been implemented/released/forced upon us...

  • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:49PM (#31749932)

    Does anyone give a fuck what some dumbass hippy who has some cushy university job and doesn't understand business thinks?

    Yes.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:04PM (#31750132)

    RMS is saying what we're pondering in our own minds, but don't dare say without sounding crazy.

    Well, no, he's not.

    For one thing, the rest of us concerned citizens here in the UK have been following the progress of the Digital Economy Bill for months. There are several organised groups opposing the draconian penalties proposed by the more extreme advocates, there is serious opposition from many politicians, thousands of people have written to their MPs on the subject, and it has been widely covered in various parts of the media, including mainstream services like the BBC.

    Moreover, as usual RMS started out with hyperbole and extreme positions that don't necessarily correspond to reality. He is the last kind of person we want wading into this discussion, and if he continues mouthing off in his usual way, the only thing he can possibly do is lend credibility to the other side of the debate with moderate politicians who are somewhat aware of the views but very aware of how to spot a quack when they see one.

    Please, someone, shut the guy up, or at least stop repeating his words as if he has any significance whatsoever in this context.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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