*countable infinities only

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 18:42:17 UTC 2012

On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 1:18 PM, Adam Williamson <awilliam at redhat.com> wrote:
> On Mon, 2012-06-18 at 09:35 -0700, Adam Williamson wrote:
> I hesitate to put words in people's mouths, and correct me if I'm wrong,
> but it reads to me as if Jay and others are arguing from an incorrect
> premise. That premise is to assume that there is a God-given right for
> people who own computing devices to retrofit alternative operating
> systems onto those devices.
> I want to put it out there that this is _not true_. It is perfectly
> possible, of course, for one to aspire to a world in which it is true.
> Many of us would want to live in such a world. We have been lucky enough
> to live in a world for some time where it _so happened_ that the
> 'computing devices' we cared about almost always allowed us to do this.
> However, in the boring practical world where such 'rights' are granted
> by process of law, no such right exists.

This is your error.  There are many statutory rights (early on they
were called civil rights and political rights), but there are also
rights possessed prior to government.  Those who articulated these
rights in the process of the English Revolutions said they were
natural rights, and some of those called them God-given.  Indeed, this
is a key premise of the American Revolution.  Among these
now-mostly-called-"fundamental" rights, but originally termed "natural
rights" was the right of property which the government could not take
from a free man without severe due process and just compensation.
This was part of the checks and balances, and why owning property was
so key to the political philosophy at the founding in the States.

In this connection, the claim is that if we actually purchase
something (and do not contract the transaction otherwise), then as our
property we can do with it as we see fit.  The notion that there's
another kind of transaction where nobody actually owns the devices is
part of how the content cabal sometimes frames their conception.

1) This does not mean someone cannot sell a palladiated device to you.
2) This does not mean you cannot crack it, though the DMCA apparently
says you cannot without risk of imprisonment -- yet at the recent DMCA
Exemptions hearings we seemed to register the dawning awareness in the
Copyright Office that circumvention to put in a new operating system
is not the same thing as a copyright infringement; and more
astoundingly, the content cabal advocates specifically stated that the
act of circumvention to put in another operating system on your own
device has nothing to do with copyright; what will be made of this
development by the Office is hard to say yet.  They seem to recognize
the pertinence of the point (the point being, what about using my
property with whatever operating system I please on it?).  They say
they may ask for more input and are presently trying to figure out how
they will proceed.
3) The claim that Microsoft or anybody must be *forced* to provide
devices without Secure Boot turned on is not Jay's position (or mine);
that's Matthew Garrett's frustrated characterization of the options.
(Though I believe Jay would hold for the particular case of Microsoft,
inasmuch as they possess or come to possess a monopoly, they would
appropriately be forced to do various things.)  Indeed, the Secure
Boot technology is a useful facility.  We can create a market in
devices over which owners can hold root control; that market may cost
a little more, and it may cater to an elite, but inasmuch as that
elite does not eventually endorse a "license to compute" the fact that
they are using devices that give them full root rights and capacity to
parse and process whatever information they receive can make the very
existence of those devices a desirable feature for the public at
large.  Inasmuch as such a market exists, the folks who want the world
to confuse "prior restraint" versions of copyright with security
features, will be unable to rationalize the norms they want to
establish, and people will demand, both for their kids and for their
personal professional advancement, the right to do the same with the
same kind of devices with UEFIs that cater to freedom.


> As a practical matter, people
> have been manufacturing, advertising and selling computing devices to
> the public, all over the world, for decades, which do not intend to
> allow the end user of the device to retrofit alternative software -
> operating system software, firmware, bootloader, or application.

This is

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