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Re: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879

From: Tim X
Subject: Re: [OT] Re: realplay.el interface with Real Player v. 1879
Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2007 20:06:31 +1000
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

David Hansen <address@hidden> writes:

> On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 19:18:18 +1000 Tim X. wrote:
>> David Hansen <address@hidden> writes:
>>> Free software somehow has to interact with the "real world", which -
>>> sadly - is dominated by proprietary software and file formats.  A lot of
>>> people switched to free software after free office software became
>>> reliable in reading M$ office files.  I think the case with mplayer is
>>> similar.  No one forces you to use the binary only codecs, mplayer
>>> already does a pretty good job w/o them (except for listening to BBC
>>> radio but hopefully the BBC comes to its sense...).
>>> And when it comes to patents or restriction circumventions:  the legal
>>> status is different from country to country.   I don't think this makes
>>> mplayer "non free", it's the laws in some countries which restrict the
>>> freedom here.
>> While I can appreciate what your saying, I think you may be missing some of 
>> the
>> subtlety of Richard's point. Its not sufficient to protect our freedoms to 
>> just
>> switch to using free software unless that software is really free and 
>> actively
>> protects our freedom. While mplay itself may be free, the fact it supports
>> non-free codecs encourages the continued support of those codecs or at the 
>> very
>> least reduces any potential pressure that might exist to convince content
>> produces to use free rather than proprietary codecs.
> Maybe we should clarify what a "free codec" is.  Is xvid free?  Or
> libavcodec?  If not, is there any video codec that can be called "free"?
> If they do count as free, I think there is no problem with mplayer.
> Just don't install or distribute any binary codecs.

I think a reasonable definition of a free codec would be one that is licensed
under a license that aims to protect the four freedoms i.e. GPL

The possible problem with mplayer is that it may make it too easy for end-users
to use non-free codecs, in which case it is implicitly undermining the
protection of our freedoms.

> When it comes to freedom restricting laws (e.g. patents or media access
> restriction), which country should be the reference?  The US?  Or the
> least or most restricting laws in the EU?  China?

Is freedom relative to any particular country? I guess things depend on how you
look at freedom. For me, you either have it or you don't. Its a very difficult
issue (which is partly why I wanted to put another perspective to Richard's
point). to some extent, there is some conflict between individual freedom and
social freedom. However, for me, one of the biggest threats to freedom is the
growth of corporate capitalism and the misdirection of terms like economic
freedom, which is increasingly used to justify and protect profits at the cost
of individual freedom by locking us out of access to technology while making us
more dependent on it.

> If you think obeying such laws is important, a lot of GNU software is
> non free in a lot of countries.  Just one (extremely silly example): In
> Germany distributing non rated video games is illegal.  This makes Emacs
> (tetris, snake) non free in Germany.  Font rendering or cryptographic
> software is a more serious issue.  A lot of GNU software links against
> freetype (you can compile it with -DFUCK_PATENTS) and cryptography is
> heavily restricted in a lot of countries.

I don't quite understand why requiring a rating for emacs games makes them
non-free. I also don't see anything in the GPL which would prevent games
authors from adding a rating or if doing so would be in conflict with the GPL

I also don't believe the legal system and freedom are necessarily the same
thing. Often the legal system is used to restrict freedom to protect
corporate/economic profit. Current software patent law for example is the
antithesis of freedom - it is the mechanism used to 'justify' the attempts
of mainly large coorporations to restrict our freedoms in order to maximise
their profits.

> Frankly, as long as the risk of getting seriously punished is very low i
> don't give a fuck about these laws.  That's like waiting as a pedestrian
> for a traffic light if there's no car in sight, or not smoking weed
> because some authority thinks it should decide what's good for you.
To some extent I agree. There are laws I don't agree with and there are some I
do. For example, I agree with laws that protect our rights to free speech,
freedom of association, freedom of religious belief etc. Other laws, such as
those that attempt to impose somebody elses idea of morality, or laws that
prevent me from doing something that doesn't impact on others ("Big Brother
laws) or laws that have been created to keep the established 'status quo' and
power hierarchies or protect big business interests are less likely to get my 
support. Of course, its not a black
and white world, so its difficult to draw clear devisions. On one hand I agree
with laws that protect against having your physical or intellectual efforts
exploited, but at the same time, I find many of these laws fail to achieve what
they were supposed to do and instead make it easier for large, powerful
corporations to use them to protect their own faceless greed. I also find it
difficult to see how such laws can adequately interpret what is fair and just
compensation for your physical or intellectual effort. 

> I think before I reply to the rest of your post we should first define
> "free codec" (free implementation available sufficient, or does it has
> to be patent free and legal (and which countries should be the reference
> here)).

For me free software means software that is released udner a license that
protects the four freedoms outlined by the FSF. Its not about free as in not
costing any money or legally free in that you can use it without economic

My address is below. I'm quite happy to discuss/debate the issues, but I think
we are getting to a much philosophical and/or ideological point that is
possibly not appropriate to this group. alternatively, if you can suggest a
more appropriate newsgroup to discuss this in, I'm more than happy to take it
there as this would allow others to participate as well.



P.S. BTW I appreciate the fact you didn't take my response to your earlier post
as a personal attack and didn't respond in an emotional defensive manner, but
instead responded with what I believe is genuine sentiments and serious debate.
This is something that has become very rare on usernet and something which i
think should be encouraged. It reminds me of the 'old' days. Thanks.

tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au

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