Subject: Re: Cygnus and proprietary software
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 00:31:38 -0500

> Can you say "transaction costs"?  I knew you could.  Mr. Rogers
> knows of no way to get a dollar from someone without spending a
> third of it just on the money transfer process.

Well, yes, make it a dollar plus a stamp.  Or better yet:

John Gilmore <gnu@toad.com> writes:

| I think if people who FTP'd a copy of GNU software from prep could
| trivially toss $1 or $3 at FSF, enough of them would do it to make
| it worth collecting.  In that way micropayments can make it easy for
| people to reward what they see as virtue; like giving a buck to the
| street person who offers to wipe your windows at the gas station.

This is a great excuse to play with that electronic money cryptography
people keep talking about.  Imagine what you could do with 50K
hardcore activist free software fans who now have the means to
instantly dump trivial-to-them but in-sum-interesting amounts of money
on code they have an interest in.  Put up a web page to vote on new
features, with pledges to pay a buck or two when the feature is
delivered.  Vote, or bid, on features.

Maybe there's a diminishing-returns approximation that allows the code
to be freely-redistributable and aggressively spread, without counting
or tracking all eventual users of the software.  If the pledge amounts
are small enough for the supporters not to be annoyed, it doesn't
matter that some people benefit without cost.  This sounds like the
public television model.  Form the free software fan club and print up
some neat T-shirts.  Charge $20/year membership dues and make sure 95%
of it goes to coding.  It would generate an amazing amount of positive
attention if it successfully funded a word processor.


Another member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) www.lpf.org
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA