Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 22:53:35 +0100

This is a bit naive

On Fri, Dec 21, 2001 at 12:49:08PM -0800, Scott Capdevielle wrote:
> I have been trying to educate myself for the past 18 months about the
> phenomenon of open source software.  I have read many fine books
> ("Hacker Ethic", "Cathedral and the Bazaar", "the Future of Ideas", "the
> Internet Galaxy", etc) each trying to explain why people are creating
> software and attaching open source licenses to it as well as what this
> means for the future.
> 
> The bottom line is that when people collaborate and share intellectual
> property, the innovation that flourishes around that "shared resource"
> is great, and the more useful (both vertically and horizontally) that
> "shared resource" is, the greater the innovation that happens as a
> result.
> 
> So, when someone suggests that you should pay a "license fee" for the
> ability to use Ximian software or any software " because you are a
> member of civil society" makes me chuckle.  In my opinion, a more civil
> society would freely share their intellectual property, rather than
> restrict and charge for it.

The point is that the economy is not yet organized in this way.  And
people who produce software have to find an economically sustainable
model.  It may be that once another economic organisation is accepted
and stabilized, if ever, all software can be free (though I am not sure
that is necessarily optimal).  But transitions can be hard.
  Another point is that people do have some right on what they create.
How, and how much, should that right be exercized is certainly an
object of discussion.  I am here talking of creation in the copyright
sense ... things that would not exist without their author.  I am not
talking obout discoveries or inventions, which are much less
contingent than creations.  And in all cases there a various interests
to be balanced : rights of author, of users, of society present and
future.


> There is ample room to charge for services required to extend, support,
> service the software.
> 
> Example:  The drug industry.  A lot of people think that J & J and Merck
> are perfectly justified charging monopolistic prices for the drugs they
> "invent" (very similar to charging a "license" for use of that drug).
> When the patent runs out those same drugs are available at about 5% of
> the original price, highlighting the fact that the cost to produce and
> distribute the drug is a tiny fraction of what the Drug companies
> originally charge.  What is civil about that?  

Much of the cost of drug comes from research and testing.  Generic
drugs that are produced after the patent expires do not incur that
cost.  And it is not just the cost of one drug, because many are tried
without success for one that does reach the market.
  Now whether these cost justify the whole setup, and whether there
are no economically viable alternatives, I am not equipped to judge.
But it is a tiny bit more complex than you seem to think.

Bernard

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