of course you can read..
graze on what others make available to them.
This kind of thinking leads to travesties like the CBDTPA "Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act" which would require copying restriction facilities in every digital device. If all the users do is "consume", then why should they mind?
The narrow economic vision of users as "consumers" tends to go hand in hand with the idea that published works are "content".
To describe people who are not limited to passive consumption on their computers, we suggest terms such as "individuals" and "citizens".
If you want to describe a feeling of comfort and satisfaction, by all means say you are ``content'', but using it as a noun to describe written and other works of authorship is worth avoiding. That usage adopts a specific attitude towards those works: that they are an interchangeable commodity whose purpose is to fill a box and make money. In effect, it treats the works themselves with disrespect.
Those who use this term are often the publishers that push for increased copyright power in the name of the authors (``creators'', as they say) of the works. The term ``content'' reveals what they really feel.
As long as other people use the term ``content provider'', political dissidents can well call themselves ``malcontent providers''.
The term ``creator'' as applied to authors implicitly compares them to a deity (``the creator''). The term is used by publishers to elevate the authors' moral stature above that of ordinary people, to justify increased copyright power that the publishers can exercise in the name of the authors. We recommend saying ``author'' instead. However, in many cases ``copyright holder'' is what you really mean.
``Digital Rights Management''
``Digital Rights Management'' software is actually designed to impose restrictions on computer users. The use of the word ``rights'' in this term is propaganda, designed to lead you unawares into seeing the issue from the viewpoint of the few that impose the restrictions, while ignoring that of the many on whom the restrictions are imposed.
Good alternatives include ``Digital Restrictions Management'' and ``handcuffware.''
If you want to say that a program is free software, please don't say that it is available ``for free.'' That term specifically means ``for zero price.'' Free software is a matter of freedom, not price.
Free software copies are often available for free--for example, by downloading via FTP. But free software copies are also available for a price on CD-ROMs; meanwhile, proprietary software copies are occasionally available for free in promotions, and some proprietary packages are normally available at no charge to certain users.
To avoid confusion, you can say that the program is available ``as free software.''
Please don't use the term ``freeware'' as a synonym for ``free software.'' The term ``freeware'' was used often in the 1980s for programs released only as executables, with source code not available. Today it has no particular agreed-on definition.
Also, if you use other languages than English, please try to avoid borrowing English words such as ``free software'' or ``freeware.'' Try to use the often less ambiguous wording that your language offers, e.g.
Arabic: Baramej Horrah
Chinese: zi4you2 ruan3jian4
Dutch: vrije software
Esperanto: libera programaro
French: logiciel libre
German: freie Software
Hebrew: tochna hofshit
Hungarian: szabad szoftver
Irish: bog earraí saoire
Italian: software libero
Japanese: jiyuu [na] sofuto
Portuguese: software [programa] livre
Russian: svobodny programy
Slovak : slobodny' softve'r
Slovenian: prosto programje
Spanish : software [programa] libre
Swedish: fri mjukvara
Turkish : õzgür yazilim
By forming a word in your own language, you show that you are really referring to freedom and not just parroting some mysterious foreign marketing concept. The reference to freedom may at first seem strange or disturbing to your countrymen, but once they see that it means exactly what it says, they will really understand what the issue is.
``Give away software''
It's misleading to use the term ``give away'' to mean ``distribute a program as free software.'' It has the same problem as ``for free'': it implies the issue is price, not freedom. One way to avoid the confusion is to say ``release as free software.''
Publishers and lawyers like to describe copyright as ``intellectual property''---a term that also includes patents, trademarks, and other more obscure areas of law. These laws have so little in common, and differ so much, that it is ill-advised to generalize about them. It is best to talk specifically about ``copyright,'' or about ``patents,'' or about ``trademarks.''
The term ``intellectual property'' carries a hidden assumption---that the way to think about all these disparate issues is based on an analogy with physical objects, and our ideas of physical property.
When it comes to copying, this analogy disregards the crucial difference between material objects and information: information can be copied and shared almost effortlessly, while material objects can't be. Basing your thinking on this analogy is tantamount to ignoring that difference. (Even the US legal system does not entirely accept the analogy, since it does not treat copyrights or patents like physical object property rights.)
If you don't want to limit yourself to this way of thinking, it is best to avoid using the term ``intellectual property'' in your words and thoughts.
``Intellectual property'' is also an unwise generalization. The term is a catch-all that lumps together several disparate legal systems, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and others, which have very little in common. These systems of law originated separately, cover different activities, operate in different ways, and raise different public policy issues. If you learn a fact about copyright law, you would do well to assume it does not apply to patent law, since that is almost always so.
Since these laws are so different, the term ``intellectual property'' is an invitation to simplistic thinking. It leads people to focus on the meager common aspect of these disparate laws, which is that they establish monopolies that can be bought and sold, and ignore their substance--the different restrictions they place on the public and the different consequences that result. At that broad level, you can't even see the specific public policy issues raised by copyright law, or the different issues raised by patent law, or any of the others. Thus, any opinion about ``intellectual property'' is almost surely foolish.
If you want to think clearly about the issues raised by patents, copyrights and trademarks, or even learn what these laws require, the first step is to forget that you ever heard the term ``intellectual property'' and treat them as unrelated subjects. To give clear information and encourage clear thinking, never speak or write about ``intellectual property''; instead, present the topic as copyright, patents, or whichever specific law you are discussing.
According to Professor Mark Lemley of the University of Texas Law School, the widespread use of term "intellectual property" is a recent fad, arising from the 1967 founding of the World Intellectual Property Organization. (See footnote 123 in his March 1997 book review, in the Texas Law Review, of Romantic Authorship and the Rhetoric of Property by James Boyle.) WIPO represents the interests of the holders of copyrights, patents and trademarks, and lobbies governments to increase their power. One WIPO treaty follows the lines of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been used to censor useful free software packages in the US. See http://www.wipout.net/ for a counter-WIPO campaign.
Please avoid using the word ``open'' as a substitute for ``free software''. A different group, whose values are less idealistic than ours, uses ``open source'' as its slogan. If you are referring to them, it is proper to use their name, but please don't lump us in with them or describe our work by their label---that leads people to think we are their supporters.
Publishers often refer to prohibited copying as ``piracy.'' In this way, they imply that illegal copying is ethically equivalent to attacking ships on the high seas, kidnaping and murdering the people on them.
If you don't believe that illegal copying is just like kidnaping and murder, you might prefer not to use the word ``piracy'' to describe it. Neutral terms such as ``prohibited copying'' or ``unauthorized copying'' are available for use instead. Some of us might even prefer to use a positive term such as ``sharing information with your neighbor.''
Publishers' lawyers love to use the term ``protection'' to describe copyright. This word carries the implication of preventing destruction or suffering; therefore, it encourages people to identify with the owner and publisher who benefit from copyright, rather than with the users who are restricted by it.
It is easy to avoid ``protection'' and use neutral terms instead. For example, instead of ``Copyright protection lasts a very long time,'' you can say, ``Copyright lasts a very long time.''
If you want to criticize copyright instead of supporting it, you can use the term ``copyright restrictions.'' So you can say, ``Copyright restrictions last a very long time.''
``RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory)''
Standards bodies that promulgate patent-restricted standards that prohibit free software typically have a policy of obtaining patent licenses that require a fixed fee per copy of a conforming program. They often refer to such licenses by the term ``RAND,'' which stands for ``reasonable and non-discriminatory.''
That term white-washes a class of patent licenses that are normally neither reasonable nor non-discriminatory. It is true that these licenses do not discriminate against any specific person, but they do discriminate against the free software community, and that makes them unreasonable. Thus, half of ``RAND'' is deceptive and the other half is prejudiced.
Standards bodies should recognize that these licenses are discriminatory, and drop the use of the term ``reasonable and non-discriminatory'' or ``RAND'' to describe them. Until they do so, other writers who do not wish to join in the white-washing would do well to reject that term. To accept and use it merely because patent-wielding companies have made it widespread is to let those companies dictate the views you express.