[conspire] We're home
rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun Jun 17 09:40:59 PDT 2007
Quoting Ross Bernheim (rossbernheim at speakeasy.net):
> My dictionary is a bit different than yours.
(Just to clarify: I wasn't quoting a dictionary. I said that's the
_sort_ of thing a dictionary would tend to say.)
> proprietary, a & n 1. Of a proprietor, as proprietary rights: holding
> property, as the proprietary classes; held in private ownership, as
> proprietary medicines (sale of which is restricted by patent etc.)
That strikes me as being (at least roughly approximately) the same as
what I said a dictionary _would_ say.
> This seems to me to cover the situation quite well.
Well, I really don't think so. You see, for one thing, open source
software is _also_ held in private ownership.
(This is frequently an area of confusion: Some people think in error
that open source code is unowned, that the owners have given up their
ownership interests. To the contrary; they are issuing instances
subject to conditions that would be unenforceable if the owners had
given up copyright title.)
IIRC, that clown at the so-called "Alexis de Tocueville Institution"
(the one who later asserted that Torvalds ripped off MINIX and/or Unix
in creating his kernel) once raised the above as a dumb debate point,
claiming that "proprietary" is a meaningless term because essentially
all software is "proprietary" (has copyright owners).
The point is that, when we say _software_ is proprietary, we simply don't
mean (merely) that it has owners. We mean a more specific, technical
meaning within a specific, technical context -- and thus, quoting
dictionary definitions that _don't_ address that context is irrelevant.
And general-purpose dictionaries never do. Not even the Oxford Concise.
> My bad. I hit the reply without checking.
If you just make a habit of always using reply-to-all (instead of
reply-to-sender) for on-list mailing list replies, the right thing
should always happen.
By the way, revised essay, as of this morning:
More information about the conspire