"The Case for File Swapping"

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Thu Nov 17 13:11:58 GMT 2005

Hi good people!

My name is Shlomi Fish, and I'm an Israeli programmer and writer. My homepage 
where you can learn more about it and find my works or links to it is:


You may be familiar with me through either my CPAN modules 
( http://search.cpan.org/~shlomif/ ), through my Perl for Perl Newbies series 
( http://vipe.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/lecture/Perl/Newbies/ ) or the Perl 
Beginners' Site ( http://perl-begin.berlios.de/ ) or alternatively several of 
my controversial anti-mainstream manifests ("Rindolf", "Attitude towards 
Beginners", or the "Perl 6 Critique"). 

I'll leave it for a future E-mail to do a more thorough introduction. I should 
note that I have placed an introduction I wrote for the MIT writers list 



The actual purpose of this E-mail is to notify and raise a discussion about 
the following essay:


With all the fuss about Internet File Sharing and Downloading, the lawsuits, 
the various laws, activity against file swapping sites and technology makers, 
questioning the legality of Peer-to-Peer technology, and even talks about 
putting file sharers in jail (for copyrights violations - !), this essay 
instructs the reader to stop and think about the very idea of copying 
copyrighted, public work.

What the article say is simple: non-commercial distribution of a copyrighted 
work that was released to the public in some form, is ethical, moral and 
should be legal. Regardless of what the law says, it is unethical to try and 
enforce such copies not to be made, and the law should follow both ethics and 
logic (as it always should). The essay dispels many common myths about file 
swapping, and also explains why some mis-applied terms (such as "Intellectual 
Property" or "Stealing Copyrighted Content"), prevent a clear thought of the 

Note that despite popular interpretations of my opinion, I do not think that 
copyright law is invalid and should be abolished. (I should perhaps clarify 
it better there). For example, the various Creative Commons licences, while 
they all allow non-commercial distribution and use of works, allow the artist 
to have enough financial compensation.

The article with its DocBook/XML source is available under the Creative 
Commons Attribution License. (almost Public Domain). I enumerate the ways one 
can help promote the cause here:


Also available on the site are an E-mail I sent to a correspondent from my 
writers mailing list (who apparently failed to read the essay beforehand), 
and links to discussions. Especially of interest is a post about it to the 
Joel on Software forum, which sparked a lively discussion:


Meanwhile, it was rejected from Slashdot (not that it surprised me that it 


	Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish      shlomif at iglu.org.il
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

95% of the programmers consider 95% of the code they did not write, in the
bottom 5%.

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