Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I shouldn't be, but I'm mildly irritated by this discussion.

So I should stop feeling irritated and make a point. Guess I'm just a hardcore fundamentalist on this issue : People have no moral rights over information just because they happen to be the ones who created it.

As far as I'm concerned, everything I create (software, music, writing) you may take and change (or not), republish anywhere with or without attribution - not because I'm very decently giving these rights to you (I am, categorically not offering them), but because they were never mine to bestow or deny in the first place.

Again : in my mind, I never had any moral rights over the works after they were produced, and you never had any moral responsibilities to consult me about what you do with them.

Actually there is one obvious inconsistency with my behaviour. I release my software under the GPL which relies on copyright restrictions to protect freedom from those who may be tempted to take the work I produced and close it. This is a purely pragmatic move. I regard the existence of copyright law which underpins the GPL as unfortunate, and I would far rather that it didn't exist and that there was no need for a GPL. But, as it does, I will try to use it pragmatically to a) enhance freedom and b) draw attention to the issue.

Also I guess there is another area where I do recognise some moral rights. That is if you take something I created and distort it in such a way as to deliberately mislead people about what I said. If, for example, you took this blog-post, changed some of the words to make it sound like I was in favour of restrictions of freedom, then I feel I would have moral reasons for complaint.

We can, perhaps, give an "exculpation" to the photographer who's feelings were hurt. But we should never grant her "reason" or accept some line like "oh, it would have been OK if they'd asked permission, that's what they ought to have done, that would have been the right thing to do, it's a question of respect". This tacitly accepts a whole framework of "creators' rights" over information that we should be resisting.

But yeah, I'm a fundamentalist ... :-)

Update : Burning Bird is right about some of the sexism though.

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