Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: Rich Morin <rdm@cfcl.com>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2002 12:30:44 -0700

At 11:57 AM -0700 9/27/02, Tim O'Reilly wrote:
>As organizations, I consider Microsoft and the FSF to be
>equally unethical, since they both have a strategy of coercion.

Ahem.  Both the FSF and Microsoft restrict the manner in which their
IP gets used.  So, for that matter, does ORA.  As long as you accept
the premise of IP, restrictions on use are part of the picture.

Both the FSF and Microsoft tend to eliminate competition.  Microsoft
bullies computer vendors actively sabotages non-M$ standards, and
undercuts competitors, using resources from other parts of the vast
M$ enterprise.  Even the US Court system has agreed that M$ is a
monopoly; they just haven't said what they plan to do about it.

The FSF, meanwhile, eliminates competition by the use of the quality
of its software and the viral nature of its license.  If the FSF's
software was no good, the license wouldn't matter.  But it is always
good enough to be a "plausible promise" (in ESR's terms), so additions
to it happen and make it even better.

As I understand it, GCC's success (it's a "category killer, in ESR's
terms) has largely eliminated non-GCC C compiler development.  Only
a few firms bother to write their competing compilers.  Compiler
writers who might otherwise be interested in contributing improvements
may well be discouraged from doing so, because they cannot earn enough
(under the GPL) to justify the work.

Nonetheless, the FSF is not keeping others from trying to write
compilers, let alone playing dirty tricks on them (e.g., by making the
dominant OS recognize and reject their compilers' binaries).

So, I don't really accept Tim's assertion.  The FSF's coercion is
pretty tame by comparison to the well-documented predations of M$.

-r
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