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Legal Stuff

I hate legal stuff, which is why there hasn't been any until now. Now, though, I've found a reason to say something about it.

I read an article online the other day—the article Shared Files: Real or Mirage?, though I can't say how long the link will persist—and was thinking to myself that that was a pretty clever trick.

Strangely, though, I got the feeling I'd read about the technology somewhere before, and it wasn't long before I realized where: The Right to Read. Sure, right now the technology is only being applied to “confidential information”, but, given the current state of affairs in the online music world, how long can it be before the same technology spreads to regular online content? I'd give it about ten years.

I apologize, by the way, for the fact that you have to follow two links to get to the articles. The intermediate pages do serve a purpose, though: they're referends.

So, anyway, irritated by the thought of a world full of proprietary information, I've decided to declare the content on urticator.net free, in the sense of The Free Software Definition.

“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”

Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it refers to four kinds of freedom, for the users of the software:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Prose doesn't have source code, so freedom 1 doesn't apply, but freedom 3 still does: people should be free not only to read and redistribute information, but also to release modified versions of it. I figure the following declaration covers all that.

You can do whatever you like with the content of urticator.net. Period.

In other words, the content is in the public domain.

If you do redistribute or modify the content, I would of course appreciate it if you'd give credit by, say, referring back to the site, but even that is optional.

From what I've seen, people online are unusually aware of the flow of ideas, and are good about giving credit when an idea is redistributed, even when the exact words aren't copied. I appreciate that, too.

In fact, it seems to be polite to name not only the source of an idea, but also the previous link in the chain of transmission, even when no content from the previous link is copied. That's nice too, and I hope I do a decent job of it. Anyway, it all bodes well for the eventual understanding of memes.


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@ October (2001)