[A2k] Open letter

Richard Stallman rms at gnu.org
Wed Feb 9 08:15:54 PST 2011

The FSF mostly agrees with the views expressed in the letter, but
cannot sign it, because of its use of the term "intellectual property"
as if that referred to something coherent.  The letter goes so far as
to treat "intellectual property" as a kind of substance.

It is a mistake to generalize about copyright law and patent law.  It
is a worse mistake to generalize about a dozen totally different laws.

The reference to an attempt to "balance" the system for handling this
fictitious substance is also an obstacle.  Even in regard to copyright
alone, "balance" as usually interpreted is the wrong goal.  (See
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/misinterpreting-copyright.html.  That
article's argument based on the US Constitution would carry no weight
for Brazil, but I think its conclusion is valid anyway.)

The use of the word "protect" to describe what copyright does is also
unfortunate.  That alone would not be a reason to reject the letter,
but it's so easy to avoid -- why not avoid it?

I suppose it is too late now to change the wording of this letter.
However, you may in the future write other texts that you'd like the
FSF to support.  These same issues are likely to arise each time,
so you may as well know about them in advance.

The FSF is limited to the issue of free software and its sub-issues.
Some issues about the sharing of other kinds of works don't raise the
issue of free software, so the FSF would have to stay out of them.
However, this letter's issue does affect free software concerns, which
would have given the FSF a basis to support it ... if only the text
had been written differently.

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
www.fsf.org, www.gnu.org

More information about the A2k mailing list