Trading Standards (Follow-Up)

Two things:

Firstly, there have been several negative comments on Slashdot and in other places directed towards the trading standards lady for not knowing copyright law and for even contacting the Foundation at all. This is unfair – contacting the copyright holder (or the organisation representing them) is exactly the right thing to do. I would much rather they did that than just confiscate or prosecute unconditionally! My comment was not upon that, but upon her follow-up, suggesting that giving software away for free was terribly inconvenient for her. So no more ad hominem attacks, please.

Secondly, one visitor to the article saw the following text ads:

Company Steals Software?
Report software piracy confidentially. Up to $50k reward.

Accused of Piracy?
Experienced counsel to defend you against software piracy claims.


8 thoughts on “Trading Standards (Follow-Up)

  1. : So no more ad hominem attacks, please.

    Gerv, I have to wonder what you thought would happen. You held this person up for ridicule, plenty of people followed up. Some FOSS advocates aren’t exactly noted for their restraint and application of reason. Frankly, your article could backfire on someone’s career, because you republished private emails in a national newspaper. And now you want to un-burn the witch?

  2. Darn it! That leads to such an obvious get-rich-quick scheme (report self, use $50k to hire lawyers), but it’s foiled because I use OSS and haven’t needed to pirate anything in years!

  3. James M: There’s a very important difference (and this came up in the recent UK debates on the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill) between abusing a person and criticising a belief or attitude. I did not hold this person up for ridicule – I criticised her viewpoint.

    Furthermore, I think that the Government communicating with me in an official capacity is not “private email” for anyone except me.

  4. : I criticised her viewpoint.

    Well, you should maybe ask how you might feel in her situation. Basically, the thrust of your article was to ricicule her position.

    “I wondered if she was imagining nefarious copyright-infringing street traders taking a few moments off from shouting about the price of bananas to pop into an internet cafe, crack a router and intercept her e-mail.”

    Haw-haw, what a fool she is! Seems to me you’re just using her ignorance as a foil for your cleverness, and you shouldn’t really wonder that others decided to add their own “humorous insights” to the mix.

  5. you shouldn’t really wonder that others decided to add their own “humorous insights” to the mix.

    I don’t, as long as (again) they are commenting on the opinion and not attacking the person.

  6. Gerv, I think your article was fair. The real issue is that the trading standards agency have problems with understanding free (libre) software. This is a serious issue, and I am sure the trader who got frightened when officers descended on him/her felt quite overwhelmed. Adopting a light-hearted tone in your article made it more accessible to readers, again a good thing.

    The government should be aware of how different licenses work. They protect those licenses. That they are not aware, and that they take action against people for the wrong reasons, is a problem. It’s up to us (FOSS community) to educate the government in this matter. Given that Firefox has been downloaded a 100 million times, and that Linux is everywhere, FOSS software is pretty important.