Subject: Re: Lehman Report, Software patents, and more
From: Chris Maeda <cmaeda@cs.washington.edu>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 16:06:39 PDT

   Date:    Thu, 25 Aug 1994 17:27:00 EDT
   To:      fsb@asylum.sf.ca.us
   From:    nelson@crynwr.com (Russell Nelson)
   Subject: Re: Lehman Report, Software patents, and more
   
   If I give away software, I expose myself to expropriation of
   someone else's patents even if I've written every line of code myself.

Ok.  Patents might be a problem.  People have pointed this out in
private mail as well.  However, I don't think they present a critical
barrier to the development of free software.  Even if we abolish the
software patent system, I don't see what economic motivation there is
for developing free software.  And commercial software vendors face
the same patent problems and these problems don't stop them.

   
   I think part of that problem is a lack of mass.  For example, there's
   no accounting software because there haven't been enough accountants
   who can program or programmers who can account, who *also* need a
   program to do the accounting.

I don't think this is the problem at all.  There are lots of
commercial accounting software packages.  There must be even more
people that are capable of producing them.  Why aren't these people
working on free accounting software?

I'm a programmer who can account that needs accounting software.  I
use a personal accounting package for Windows.  It comes with a
printed manual and phone support for about $40.  It's a Windows
program so it has the GUI and lots of bells and whistles like mortgage
and insurance calculators.  How would a free software business compete
with this?

Do I want to buy a support contract for this?
	No, it better work and it better be easy to use or I'll buy
        from someone else.

Do I want the source code?
	Hell no, I don't have time to mess with the source code.
	I have no brand loyalty.  It better just work right the first time.

What if I want to customize it?
	I'll export the data to my $49 spreadsheet and futz with it
	to my heart's content.  This particular package stores its
	data in dBase format so I can write a PC database app as well,
	if I really needed something special.

What if there is a bug?
	Well, then I might be hosed.  But guess what, I've been
	banging on this little program for a few months and I haven't
	found any bugs.