About freedom and boooks, a curious case

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What freedom means? Montesquieu has his own definition: "Liberty is the right of doing whatever the laws permit." The Internet has brought freedom for an enormous amount of people in the world, as some used to say: "there is no freedom without knowledge", and the web makes available the maximum amount of knowledge to the greatest amount of people around the world.

But it seems that some governments and large companies still do not get it and want to forbid downloads, searches, or in some cases they appeal to misplaced censorship. However, in the midst of this sea of ignorance, a story that made me still believe in free speech, it is something that can make people think about how we treat other people's freedom.

Mark Pilgrim is a well known developer and writer in Python community. Maybe his greatest work is the book Dive Into Python. This book has sold many copies worldwide but the interesting thing about this story is that Mark reported yesterday on his blog that someone else just took the authorship of his book and began to distribute it on their own without the permission of its publisher, Apress. He says it caused an uproar within the editor and in the confusion, executives found that legally could not do anything against it. What happens is that the book was published under a license called GNU Free Documentation License that entitles anyone to publish and distribute the book. Also, the referred book is available online in its entirety for those who want to read. Therefore, company executives could do nothing because they had no legal precedent for this.

What caught my attention was the view of Mark himself on the subject, in theory he should feel offended by this situation, but he wrote: > I enjoy working with publishers because it makes me a better writer. But I don’t write for money; I write for > love (or passion, or whatever you want to call it). I choose open content licenses because this is the way I want > the world to work, and the only way to change the world is to change yourself first.

Instead of censorship, frustration, harsh words or anything else, we see here a happy person for his work being recognized and open to all people. He concludes his point with the words below: > So I am grateful for this anonymous soul who woke up one day and said to herself, “You know what I should do today? > I should try to sell copies of that Free book that Pilgrim wrote.” Grateful, because it afforded me the opportunity > to remind myself why I chose a Free license in the first place. My Zen teacher once told me that, when people try to > do you harm, you should thank them for giving you the opportunity to forgive them. In this case it’s even simpler, > because there’s nothing to forgive, just explain. She’s redistributing the work that I explicitly made > redistributable. She’s kind of the point.

Thank you so much Mark, maybe one day we will make the world understand that things have changed, the concept of freedom is increasingly broad and that all people must have access to knowledge, after all, knowledge is freedom, isn't it?

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