Does Bill Gates consider Benjamin Franklin a 'communist'??

I was just reading the history of Benjamin Franklin, and I noticed something interesting about him. Franklin was quite a gentleman. He was an inventor, philosopher, businessman, statesman, publisher, and librarian among the many hats that he wore. He negotiated France's crucial alliance during the American Revolution and was the only person to sign all three founding documents of the United States (Declaration of Independance, Treaty of Paris and Constitution).

Having made many inventions (including the lightning rod, bifocals, Franklin stove, medical instruments, odometer, etc.), he actively refused to patent them, believing that they were best left to the good of his community.

"... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."
Given both his actions and his words, I believe that, were he alive today, Franklin would be firmly on the side of the FLOSS community in the debate on so-called intelectual property.

Thus, if Bill Gates wishes to call the FLOSS community 'communists', he is free to do so but I think that he would be lumping one of the primary founding fathers of the United States in with us.

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Stephen Samuel (

Sat Feb 5 08:33:49 PST 2005