Subject: Re: street performer protocol
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 12:15:52 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com> writes:

    rn> Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
    >> "But open source development is cheaper!" you cry.  Which
    >> brings us back to the assertion that open source in the long
    >> run can develop better products with _much_ less financing.
    >> 
    >> How?  Why aren't those techniques available to proprietary
    >> firms?

    rn> Because of the transaction costs involved in 1) sharing your
    rn> source with your customers, 2) getting fixes back from your
    rn> customers, 3) getting senderidiptious

Those are all true of _current practice_, much of which involves
security through obscurity.  Ie, those transaction costs are
_self-imposed_ by the proprietary firm.  If they are self-imposed,
they can be discarded, fairly rapidly.

Self-imposed?  Sure: Aladdin Ghostscript is not 100% free AFAIK, yet
distributes source widely.  If I understand Michael Olson's
description, neither is Sleepycat's product.  Still these are much
better company (I'm pleased to count them FSBs even if they're not
quite Ivory-pure) than RSA, the acme of software slavery.  Yet even
RSA are distributing RSAREF.

There is a broad array of possibilities here, starting with
"distribute source under GPL to customers who have strong incentive
not to redistribute" all the way to "source escrow" (which is
practically the same situation as no source from the point of view of
transactions cost).

It is true that it is primarily competition from open source will
force firms which want to keep their source proprietary to find
alternative means of enforcement.  It doesn't mean that they face the
alternative of giving up enforcement entirely and becoming open source
or extinction.

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