Rights Versus Freedoms

Posted in Site News at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brueghel Jan
“According to some views, certain rights derive from God or Nature” –Wikipedia

Summary: Whether secular of religious, political or apolitical, people are assumed to have rights, however nowadays the term “rights” is ascribed to corporations, which are not humans

The word “right” was in some way hijacked by the “bad guys” — those who see themselves as being “right” by merit of being more powerful than everyone else. Originally, but to an extent to this date, the word right was mostly associated with laws that protect the public from those with too much power. Phrases like “rights holder” probably diluted the word “right” in the same way that the word “open” got misused in many ways (we covered this a lot in the past). One might argue that the word “free” came to mean inexpensive and “freedom” now means deregulation (i.e. more power to those already in power), so when Dr. Richard Stallman told me that the name “Techrights” would not be clever — arguing that “rights” is a loaded term — I went with that name anyway. That name was actually proposed by our Web host, Tracy. By the way, Stallman will be on a future episode of TechBytes, as soon as we get everything sorted out. The subject of consultation regarding name can be brought up there.

“Companies do not have rights, people do.”Patents are sometimes said to fall under “intellectual property rights” (IPR), which is funny because a site with “rights”in its name actually goes against many of those so-called ‘rights’, alleging instead that it is the right of inventors to do their work without reading patent applications and the right of citizens everywhere not to pay tax to companies in other countries that had nothing to actually offer other than pieces of paper. What we find in some of those sound bytes that contain “rights” in them is that just as “freedom” came to mean deregulation (e.g. “free market”), rights came to mean something that actually harms real rights of citizens. It’s all PR-speak and we need to take back our vocabulary, even if the path there is a tad abrasive. Companies do not have rights, people do.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:


If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    June 27, 2011 at 8:58 am


    Might makes right…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:


  2. rpgray said,

    June 27, 2011 at 11:34 am


    The confusion comes from two different sources. There is a difference between negative rights (the right to not be aggressed against) and positive rights (alleged obligations on the part of one person towards another). Those who believe that an idea can be property view the copying of ideas as “aggression”. The second point of confusion is the belief that an idea can be property.

    I would also like to address another issue you raise. The term “free market” itself has become hijacked. It has become hijacked by people who equate it with everything from neo-colonialism to bank bailouts to – , yes, support for intellectual property. None of these are present in a true free market system. In a true free market the government simply gets out of the way of any voluntary interaction between or among individuals. A growing number of free market thinkers are rejecting the idea of intellectual property – including software patents.



    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Maybe we can spin the term IPR to mean Ineffectual patents restrictions or something along those lines.

  3. NotZed said,

    June 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm


    If you’re going to be a stickler for language, how about calling it a rent rather than a tax?

    Taxes are necessary to lubricate an efficient society – without them you are left with an inefficient and barely functioning one. Just look at any developing country you care to think of, or to be blunt – the USA. They might be wasted and misspent but things are completely rooted without them. For one extant example, Greece is mostly in its current mess because taxes weren’t collected properly on those wealthy enough to get away with it.

    The pernicious private rent extraction you and many others always call a ‘tax’ is merely a form of wealth distribution – from the many to the few. It has no benefit to society whatsoever, nor can it ever by definition.

    And unfortunately the courts would disagree with your final statement. Corporations clearly have rights that exceed those of citizens. About the only ‘right’ a citizen of a western country has is to refuse to purchase a given companies products, but even that has been diluted – in some cases you can’t even be a functioning member of society without paying some foreign or local self-proclaimed supra-citizen their tribute (e.g. to access the media required to be an informed citizen). And in any event is a very weak right when the media is playing for `the other side’, and against the ever-increasing concentration of ownership. How can you boycott a company that owns everything or gets a cut of everything, and you don’t even know it?

    twitter Reply:

    You can call it a tax if the private company derives much of it’s force from government support. Imagine where Microsoft, for example, would be without draconian copyright and patent laws.

    You should not be so defeatist about changing laws to liberate people. The power companies have over you is reason to resist, not to give up.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    A lot of people do not know how to resist, even if they wish to. I’ve prepared some videos about that.

  4. twitter said,

    June 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm


    Rights and freedoms are two interesting ways of looking at things. Both can be looked at as positive assertions when applied to software freedom and both can be phrased as negative arguments. Sofware freedom is a natural right that harms no one, so it is an essential freedom that we should not allow others to violate. Society should protect its members against injustices like non free software. Why should anyone let another person or company have that kind of power over them? Because it makes the non free software people money? That’s as preposterous as allowing muggers to run free. The only thing worse than tolerating that kind of injustice is a state that actively protects and promotes the injustice.

    The easy way to undo the injustice of non free software is to undo state protection for it and that protection has always been on shaky ground. One of the cases that established copyright protection for binary files was Lotus vrs someone who claimed to be a Soviet agent cracking and distributing non free software with explicit goal of ruining the business. As copyright is supposed to protect human expressions, it can be argued that only the source code should enjoy copyright protection. The binaries are limited and can’t be understood, much less trusted, and will never enter the public domain. Enlarging the public domain is the reason copyright exists. The establishment of patent protection for software is even more absurd and thankfully it is being dismantled. In the mean time, all of us lose our natural right to copy and share files as well as to make our computers do what we want them to. This is to great a price to pay simply to make Bill Gates the richest man in the world and employ a few hundred thousand poorly treated employees. The exercise is unjust from concept to result. Governments should stop purchasing, using and protecting non free software. Only human expressions that can be shared deserve the protections copyright has to offer.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I don’t think these are “poorly treated employees”; rather, they are poorly-treating employees.

    twitter Reply:

    Microsoft treats employees as badly as they treat shareholders and investors. The culture is consistently described as demanding, demeaning and unbearable by all but the most self depreciating and misguided. There are a myriad of divisive rankings reflected in badges, immigration status and ultimately lower wages than a free market would bear. Even before the company decided to become the US’s largest exploiter of zero rights H1B workers, Bill Gates would personally drill dedicated employees with “killer questions” and statements like, “That’s the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.” There are stories about how the principle investors tried to rob each other when one was sick. Bill Gates and Microsoft’s poisonous attitude had polluted a large swath of US corporate and government policy. Why would anyone want to go to the source?

What Else is New

  1. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 14: The Notorious Revolving Door

    The Benoît Battistelli-António Campinos shuffle left some people in the EPO’s upper management better off; they’re being rewarded for complicity, so there’s no incentive to do the right thing but to do the wrong thing

  2. Links 11/4/2021: GnuPG 2.3.0, Linux 5.13 Additions

    Links for the day

  3. All EPO Articles Are Available Over Gemini Protocol

    For lighter and more privacy-preserving access to Techrights use the Gemini capsule instead of the Web site

  4. Judge and JURI

    The Committee on Legal Affairs, a.k.a JURI, meets the EPO tomorrow (in 24 hours); will abuses by António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli be brought up?

  5. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 13: The Failed Promise of a “Good Governance” Guru…

    Before becoming an absent-minded Vice-President of António Campinos Christoph Ernst was posing as the very opposite of what he would become

  6. Gemini Gateways for IPFS

    The World Wide Web is fine for a lot of things, but for controversial publications and publications that invoke the 'wrath' of corporations/states/plutocracy we must look beyond the traditional protocols, choosing decentralised means and self-hosted means of publication (instead or at the very least in conjunction)

  7. Challenging Times for EPO Management

    A discussion of the status quo at Europe's second-largest (but scarcely-understood) institution, subjected to a JURI hearing tomorrow afternoon

  8. “The Fighters of Freedom”

    Some anime fans have made this video about recent events

  9. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 10, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, April 10, 2021

  10. [Meme] Bundestagate Series Spoiler

    The chain of command/s at the EPO typically leads to major tragedy

  11. Breaking News: Campinos to Appear Before the Legals Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Monday 12 April

    "Some MEPs have been briefed about ongoing governance deficits at the EPO, in particular the lack of GDPR compliance and the sell-out of "digital sovereignty" to Microsoft, but it remains to be seen whether or not they will dare to bring these issues up during the hearing."

  12. Pro-FSF Petition (“An Open Letter in Support of Richard Matthew Stallman Being Reinstated by the Free Software Foundation”) Tops 6,200 Signatures

    Monopolies and their media, along with their NGOs, have spoken and incited based on falsehoods; people now respond so the hate letter has a real crisis

  13. Links 10/4/2021: osbuild 28, KDE Frameworks 5.81.0

    Links for the day

  14. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 12: A Worthy Successor to His Mentor?

    We examine the role of Christoph Ernst in EPO management, both in the Benoît Battistelli era and the António Campinos era (plenty to hide)

  15. USPTO for Monopolies, Keeping GNU/Linux in the Dark

    Growing evidence of gross discrimination against GNU/Linux (or Free software, even BSD/UNIX) users at the USPTO is too hard to ignore; some people out there challenge the Office over this travesty

  16. Accessibility and Availability First

    To make Techrights more widely accessible and more difficult to block/censor we've been making further changes, including self-hosting where possible

  17. Self-Hosting Videos With Free Formats and Animated Previews, Watermarks/Logos and Translucency

    We examine the power of video editing with ffmpeg, chained with command-line scripting and HTML5 features

  18. Links 10/4/2021: Linux on M1, Wine 6.6, ClamAV 0.103.2

    Links for the day

  19. Lunduke: On Mob Justice in the Tech Industry

    A new video from the former Microsofter who fears the phenomenon that’s adopted by companies like IBM

  20. IRC Proceedings: Friday, April 09, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, April 09, 2021

  21. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag — Appendix (Benoît Battistelli's Vichy Syndrome): Georges Henri Léon Battistelli and Charles Robert Battistelli

    Local copies with evidence of or something concrete about Benoît Battistelli’s connection to unsavoury — and by today’s standards outright fascistic — politics

  22. IBM Doubles Down on Masters Being an Acceptable Word in the Context of Technology

    3 days after this post which disproves IBM's stance or shows its double standards it once again says “Masters” in its official blog (won’t that offend and alienate some people as they insist?)

  23. Hate Letter Against Richard Matthew Stallman (RMS) Backfired So Spectacularly That Signers Asked to Revoke Their Own Signatures and the List Was Then Frozen Permanently (Updated)

    "An open letter in support of Richard Matthew Stallman being reinstated by the Free Software Foundation" tops 6,100 signatures (graph generated just moments ago)

  24. EPOLeaks on Misleading the Bundestag -- Part 11: The BMJV's Tweedledee: Dr Christoph Ernst

    The right-hand man of António Campinos plays a role similar to that of Herr Lutz before him

  25. Links 9/4/2021: Tanglet 1.6.0 and HPVM 1.0

    Links for the day

  26. The Libel Against Richard Stallman Did Not Age Well

    Almost 2 years down the line libel about the founder of the FSF remains online, uncorrected (in sites funded by Microsoft and IBM)

  27. The Letter in Support of the FSF and Richard Stallman is Backed by the International Community, Not American Monopolies and Nationalistic Elements

    Free software is for everybody to use, internationally, it is not the asset of a bunch of current and old monopolists (connected to the US military) that also control the media; the nature of the signatures says that out loud

  28. Gemini Over IPFS (Decentralised Web, Accessed Over Gemini Protocol)

    The Gemini protocol (gemini://) can already be used to fetch (at the back end) and present objects from a P2P-like network; we're currently exploring practical use cases and possibilities

  29. News Sites That Talk About Patents Have Become Shameless Self-Promotion 'Plugs' by Law Firms (and Sometimes Outright 'Spam' for Litigation)

    The sources of news about patent affairs have dried up; sites that actually used to investigate and report facts have since then shut down or defected to the Public Relations/marketing industry

  30. Links 9/4/2021: Kubernetes 1.21 and FFmpeg 4.4 Released

    Links for the day

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts