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Confusing Words and Phrases that are Worth Avoiding

last modified 2006-02-22 03:47 PM

Richard Stallman discusses doublespeak in the software world.

Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project and the head of the Free Software Foundation is a controversial figure. However, I always find what he writes and says thought-provoking, amusing and worth reading/listening to. While perusing the Disinfopedia I came across this article by Stallman.

My favorite definition (which explains why most of the discussions on Internet file sharing are so absurd):

    ...the term ``intellectual property'' is an 
    invitation to simplistic thinking. It leads people 
    to focus on the meager common aspect of these 
    disparate laws, which is that they establish 
    monopolies that can be bought and sold, and ignore 
    their substance--the different restrictions they 
    place on the public and the different consequences 
    that result. At that broad level, you can't even see 
    the specific public policy issues raised by 
    copyright law, or the different issues raised by 
    patent law, or any of the others. Thus, any opinion 
    about ``intellectual property'' is almost surely 
    foolish.

The very first time I heard Stallman speak, and before I was intimately familiar with his philosophy, I asked him how he thought creators could make money on various forms of intellectual property. As you can imagine, I got an earful!

 

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