I agree with part of Aymeric's comment:
On Oct 28, 2011, at 7:05 PM, Aymeric wrote:
> hackers/crackers/*kers are keen in keeping
> the information rolling but this is very often unrelated to licensing
> issue, it is either done in a more pragmatic way ("copy pasting") or has
> to follow some unspoken rules of knowledge transfer...
I'm glad you noted that much of the information shared by hackers isn't intended to be shared with the entire globe, but rather within a community according to its norms. This seemingly contradictory stance suggests a more nuanced, and more tribal, ethic than the "Information Wants to Be Free" motto parodied by Stewart Brand.
There's no contradiction to the hacker stance if you recognize that we should always talk about copyright and privacy in the same breath. Copyright obstructs the sharing of what is owned, while privacy obstructs the sharing of what is not. The balance between the two is the important political question.
Hackers proclaim copyright obsolete but are fanatical about privacy, while to Apple and Google copyright is a truism and privacy obsolete. And so hactivists like Brian Kennish use one form of sharing--open source code, in the form of a browser extension--to block another form of sharing, the "frictionless sharing" (Kennish's term) of Facebook's personal data with advertisers:
Facebook Disconnect extension hits Firefox and Safari
As important as the GNU General Public License has been to open-source software, the GPL only governs copyright. Large-scale open collaborations typically founder without trusted information sharing, so open-source coders historically forged private identities with PGP, the privacy counterpart of GPL. Joline Blais has written about the way public key encryption ceremonies echo indigenous rituals of information sharing:
Indigenous Domain: Pilgrims, Permaculture, and Perl
Many hackers and Native peoples recognize that "information wants to be free" is not much better than copyright lockdown. Their traditions point to a third path, in which (to use Blais's term) "information requires care." This third way is the basis of a legal template for sharing recently co-developed by Native and new media activists:
> ...why [copyleft] was picked up by
> artists and intellectuals is still not entirely clear to me...
Are you sure who was first?
"Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free."
--Richard Stallman, GNU Manifesto, 1985
"Computers are bringing about a situation that's like the invention of harmony. Subroutines are like chords. No one would think of keeping a chord to himself. You'd give it to anyone who wanted it. You'd welcome alterations of it. Subroutines are altered by a single punch. We're getting music made by man himself, not just one man."
--John Cage, 1969.
> sharing ... software source code is not
> quite like the source of a text, the source of an image, music, a work
> of art...
For digital "mother" files, which may include Photoshop layers, Garageband instruments, or Processing source code, I believe there is a clear parallel. That's why the Open Art License includes a "view source" requirement:
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