Subject: Re: economic efficiency of free software
From: Jamie Lokier <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 23:28:15 +0000

Russell Nelson wrote:
>  > Because forcing information into the tautology of classic economics
>  > has a terrible price ---because it requires scarcity to work.  The
>  > market requires scarcity and thus denial in order to function.
> But ... Jean, software *is* scarce, and I am being denied software
> that I desire by the market.  This is true regardless of copyright
> laws.  I can think of a half-dozen programs that I'd like to have,
> which are scarce because they don't exist.

Well there you go, the scarcity is real; making software is work and
the market governing which software is created is justified after all.

But there's no scarcity in distribution.  When the market restricts
who can have and who can't have a copy, it _is_ causing unnecessary
denial, seen within the context of the distribution market alone.

When you look at both together as a single market, then if we're
intellectually honest we admit that some factors are genuinely scarce,
and some are not.  Therein lies all the debate - how separable are
those markets?  And the ethicals: _should_ they be separated as a
matter of policy?

In a sense it all works out in the long run.
But that's true of any system.

-- Jamie