Subject: Fiduciary limitations
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 12:42:41 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Brian" == Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com> writes:

    Brian> What legal mechanisms exist to constrain future actions of
    Brian> a business against its profit motive?

Incorporation as a non-profit.  Assigning relevant property rights to
someone else.  (This has to be done carefully, of course, but probably
can be done.)  The second is only a partial constraint.

    Brian> How can a software business prove to consumers that the
    Brian> terms and business values they like today will be applied
    Brian> in the future, even if the company is sold to new
    Brian> management?

It cannot.

The consumers must make plain that they plan to vote with their feet.
That will keep the vendor honest.  I recommend to you Eric Raymond's
"Gun Nut" page.  Meditate on the analogy for a while.  (I favor gun
control myself---and practice karate.)

But the problem is that most consumers are simply people, and like
most people are out for themselves, looking for a fast buck.  That
makes them easy to swindle, easy to lock in.

Do you know how Andy Carnegie got rich?  By refusing to be locked in.
He once had a multimillion dollar mill razed and a new one based on
technology that shaved a couple of percentage points off operating
costs built in its place---before the first one had poured its first
ton of steel.  That dedication to cost-cutting allowed him to undercut
everybody, and still make a tidy profit.  (Then he made whacking big
ones after joining the Steel Trust, but that is another story.)

If businesses would treat their Web servers that way, they'd be much
better off.  If managements aren't smart enough to figure that out,
protecting them from Microsoft or Cygnus Solutions or wv.com will
still leave them vulnerable to business fads and MLM.

Millions for education, not one cent for legislation!

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."