[linux-elitists] California Copyleft Research Initiative of 2001

Bulent Murtezaoglu bm@acm.org
Sun Jul 1 12:41:47 PDT 2001

>>>>> "RW" == Ryan Waldron <rew@erebor.com> writes:

    BM> ... prohibit the prohibition of re-distribution.  Scientific
    BM> publishers would not be happy about this.

    RW> But is this a bad thing?  

No I personally don't think loosening up restrictions on access to
research is a bad thing.  But when one's thinking about getting 
the government to do something, I think one ought to consider who'll 
be hurt by this for political and maybe moral reasons.  If I were a 
scientific publisher I'd be pissed, and IMHO rightly so, since at the 
stroke of a pen the goverment will kill my business.  

    RW> Scientific publishers should not be
    RW> able to derive profits (in an economic sense of the word) from
    RW> the activity of distribution, which itself could be done for a
    RW> fraction of the cost via the network.  

Yes, but it was not always so.  I think scientific publishing will die
off slowly because both the logistics of refereeing and distribution
are becoming much easier.  The issue is whether they should be killed
by gov't action.

    RW> Their profits should
    RW> come from their value added, which is merely the service of
    RW> vetting and approving submissions for (supposed) quality.  And
    RW> this they could still do.  

How would they collect money to pay their staff?  I think what will
happen is the editing work etc. performed by publishers will be done
by the research institutions themselves and possibly subsidized by
a portion of the grats.  

    BM> The possible MS argument is much easier to state and sell: the
    BM> GPL effectively prohibits a certain industry from using the
    BM> fruits of publicly-funded research.

    RW> You're right that it's easier to state, and and I think you've
    RW> nailed pretty much what it's going to be.  The problem is that
    RW> it's only easy to sell because it is an UTTER LIE.  

I don't think it is an utter lie.  If I was not masquerading as MS,
I would have stated it differently: the algorithms are available for
use by the industry, but the implementation is not.  A somewhat weaker
assertion, but not completely different.  

    RW> Perhaps in
    RW> the Redmondian Bizarro world there's actually someone who
    RW> believes this claptrap, but the reality is that the GPL does
    RW> NOT prevent ANYONE from using the fruits of such research; it
    RW> only prevents people from EXPLOITING the fruits of such
    RW> research, 

Ah, but the bad connotation of 'exploitation' is in the eye of the

    RW> by "embracing and extending" it into a proprietary
    RW> solution, owned by a habitual monopolistic predator, to which
    RW> all other uses become economically beholden.

Embrace and extend will certainly be possible at the specification
level also -- having the implementation GPL'd does not prevent that.
I am not sure that additional laws are required to deal with the MS
problem or that the solution will be a legal one.  I think Mr. Bad's
motivation was not to hurt MS by having the government impose a GPL
requirement on research but to prevent MS from getting them to do the 



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