Linus Torvalds on file sharing ...
"What ... bothers me is the apparent dishonesty of especially the R.I.A.A., claiming that file-sharing is destroying their business and that they are losing billions of dollars on it."
The quote above came during David Diamond's interview with Linux creator Linus Torvalds in the New York Times mag The Sharer, this weekend gone.
Torvalds certainly got that right. But as you'd expect, he was also well on target with viruses and worms ------ and the Silicon Valley approach to money-making.
Now read on >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
QUESTIONS FOR LINUS TORVALDS
By David Diamond
Diamond: You gave Linux, the operating system, to the world free, in effect jump-starting the open-source movement. Now this previously obscure company, SCO Group, claims ownership of some of the code and threatens to close the door on open source and Linux. I suppose it's to be expected that when you send your offspring out into the world, you have to be prepared for your kid to run with a crowd you don't approve of.
Torvalds: Oh, Linux has grown up, and it's running with a crowd that I certainly never expected, like I.B.M. and Hewlett-Packard. That's not the issue. SCO is claiming parenthood of that child and now wants to make money off the earnings of that child. Even though SCO has refused to undergo the technical equivalent of DNA testing, and even though my (and other people's) DNA is probably all over Linux.
Diamond: So does this issue matter to you personally?
Torvalds: I've tried to stay away from distractions. But especially since they have started threatening to send invoices to Linux users, it may eventually escalate to the point where I have to start taking legal steps.
Diamond: Is file-sharing, which has the recording industry so up in arms, the ''dark side'' of open-source attitudes?
Torvalds: Sharing is certainly not bad in itself. In open source, we feel strongly that to really do something well, you have to get a lot of people involved. What the recording industry is so worried about is obviously something totally different -- the ''sharing'' of stuff that isn't yours to share in the first place.
Diamond: O.K. So what are your views on sharing music files?
Torvalds: I don't actually think about it much; I listen to the radio if I listen to music. What I do find interesting is how the file-sharing thing ends up changing how people think about computers and copyright law. Some of it is a bit scary: just the fact that your question equated sharing with something bad is a pretty scary statement in itself. What also bothers me is the apparent dishonesty of especially the R.I.A.A., claiming that file-sharing is destroying their business and that they are losing billions of dollars on it. There's been a number of studies done, and it looks like the major reason for the dip in CD sales ends up being lack of interest in the music produced. And let's face it -- how many boy bands can you try to sell before your revenues start dipping?
Diamond: We've been getting hit with a lot of viruses and worms lately. What's your idea for ending the attacks?
Torvalds: When you have people who hook up these machines that weren't designed for the Internet, and they don't even want to know about all the intricacies of network security, what can you expect? We get what we have now: a system that can be brought down by a teenager with too much time on his hands. Should we blame the teenager? Sure, we can point the finger at him and say, ''Bad boy!'' and slap him for it. Will that actually fix anything? No. The next geeky kid frustrated about not getting a date on Saturday night will come along and do the same thing without really understanding the consequences. So either we should make it a law that all geeks have dates -- I'd have supported such a law when I was a teenager -- or the blame is really on the companies who sell and install the systems that are quite that fragile.
Diamond: Since you moved to Silicon Valley from Finland in 1997, how has the region's aggressive approach to money-making affected you?
Torvalds: Oh, how I hate that question. I've actually found the image of Silicon Valley as a hotbed of money-grubbing tech people to be pretty false, but maybe that's because the people I hang out with are all really engineers. They came here because this is where the action is. You go out for dinner, and all the tables are filled with engineers talking about things that won't be available to ''normal people'' for a few years. If ever.
Diamond: People position you as the nemesis to Bill Gates. He started Microsoft and you started Linux, the big competition to Microsoft's dominance of operating systems. Is that an unfair or inaccurate characterization?
Torvalds: The thing is, at least to me personally, Microsoft just isn't relevant to what I do. That might sound strange, since they are clearly the dominant player in the market that Linux is in, but the thing is: I'm not in the ''market.'' I'm interested in Linux because of the technology, and Linux wasn't started as any kind of rebellion against the ''evil Microsoft empire.'' Quite the reverse, in fact: from a technology angle, Microsoft really has been one of the least interesting companies. So I've never seen it as a ''Linus versus Bill'' thing. I just can't see myself in the position of the nemesis, since I just don't care enough. To be a nemesis, you have to actively try to destroy something, don't you? Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.