Open Source and Intellectual Property

The first man who, having enclosed a land, thought of saying 'this is mine' and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. How many wars, crimes, murders; how much misery and horror the human race would hve been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: 'beware of listening to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone and the earth belongs to no one!'

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality, 1755

What is the relationship between common resources and property? I'd wager that most proprietry systems are build either using or on-top of commonly available code. Rarely is something so unique to be genuinely produced by the inventor. Rousseau is an idealist, a romantic; people forget outside the natural world is much worse. What animals do to each other in the natural world wouldn't be tollerated in civil society. If a squirel thinks he can get aways with it, he's pounce on an unsupecting pidgeon and have it for lunch.

Property and the ablility to trade may actually make us more human. Human societies that trade goods have been shown to be more progressive than those based on heirarchy. If man had never fenced off his property would we ever be in the position were we could trade; nobody would have anything of value. Is this really a world of less murder? The world is unequal, but it's in our interest, in the long term, to trust.

Opensourcers may give their work for free but didn't Stallman once say something like he'd never met a poor programmer. Involvement in the community creates work.


Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is used to make sure you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.