everything wrong with free software
"obedience breeds foolishness"
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=> how-to-deal-with-your-raspberry-spy.html how-to-deal-with-your-raspberry-spy
*originally posted:* mar 2021
before we get started, its important to clarify a couple of side points about free culture--
copyright doesnt "protect" ideas. copyright doesnt prevent misquoting, lying, misrepresentation.
people who use a license because they think it will prevent such problems are using a license to do something it cant do.
free culture exists to make it easier to have the basic rights of free expression that society was accustomed to for most of its history. "fair use" was a way to mitigate the awful reality of flipping public-domain-unless-copyrighted to copyrighted-by-default. its not like the basic right to quote and use very small parts of something didnt already exist before that.
as for plagiarism, journalists often play fast and loose-- activists moreso. once youve used a license to ensure people dont need to worry about a pointless copyright lawsuit, things are governed by other rules and norms. unlike academia, with its formality and rigour, we break many of those rules now and then-- because most of these works are not scholarly in nature.
a lot of it is honestly just rumour mill stuff. those of us who care about the truth try to whittle down rumours to reality and facts and that sort of thing. but we have to start somewhere. some of these stories have an urgency to them. thats activism for you.
another thing to think about is anonymity by default. a lot of us are speaking for a number of people at once. we dont always say when, or who. sometimes this is done as a service. one thing you cant do is put anonymity back once youve attributed something, so in that regard its better to attribute some things optionally and after the fact. this goes for leaks, as well as some other sensitive topics. but when a toe is stepped on, its not too difficult to fix these things within the realistic norms of this activity. if it was for a term paper, we would get kicked out.
thats the "norm" in what we do. sometimes we talk about where something comes from, because its a good habit to do that even if youre not in the habit of doing it. and often, there is an understanding about it.
what happens next, doesnt deny that understanding. but there is a line that can be crossed (probably several, actually).
a lot of the things we say, we say in the hopes of ideas spreading. information wants to be free (as in freedom). we largely want it to be free. we dont coin phrases just to look clever, we use them in hopes that people will understand them and maybe even adopt them too. theres nothing wrong with that.
and to be clear, i hope people feel free to remix things. we generally relinquish control of what things are done when we allow remix.
if theres a big exception to this, heres something you ought to try to avoid doing... try not to:
1. first, bite off someones latest work as if you came up with it
2. give yourself (substantial) credit for it when all you did was use it
3. misrepresent the work youre biting off
4. dismiss that work, then continue to appropriate it, all without the slightest hint of attribution
you can only do this so much without people taking it personally and thinking youre a douchebag. there are (mostly) innocent noobs who wont know, but its alright to tell them.
when it becomes a habit, and all possibility of an honest mistake has been ruled out, its not a lot better than a smear campaign.
the worst of it is when you dont respond to valid complaints about what youve done with someone elses work-- when its clear they just created something, youve just borrowed it-- and only to twist it around to some purpose that opposes it?
copyright doesnt (adequately) protect you from this. most of the time, libel laws arent quite tedious enough to ensure a meaningful response to this either. not that youd really want them to be.
generally speaking, the best response to someone doing this sort of thing is a rebuttal, and condemnation.
the dishonesty is the biggest problem here-- not the "borrowing". but the combination is kind of shabby. the combination is what the upcoming complaints are really about.
and this is a pattern of appropration, dishonesty and unreasonable/unwarranted dismissal. in short, its douchebaggery.
you see it happen once or twice, you can let it go.
but heres the thing-- it hasnt stopped. if someone wants to do this until theres finally a reaction... guess what?
mission accomplished. stand by...