Subject: Re: open source definition
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 11:28:17 -0400

> A company based on free software can't make money by restricting
> distribution of the software.

I'm willing to let a company restrict distribution for a year or two,
while a company manufactures enough scarcity to get their investment
and a profit back.

> You seem to be saying that this means we aren't really software
> companies.

That's exactly what I'm saying.  You are in the business of producing
and distributing cdroms, not writing software.  You could put some
other variety of useful free bits on your disks besides software, such
as satellite pictures, and your business model wouldn't change.

> By this circular logic it is impossible, even in theory, for a
> "real" free software company to exist.

On one hand you have a company capable of writing new software.  On
the other hand you have users willing to pay something for that new
software.  The challenge is to invent terms in the middle that
minimize free rider problems.

The purest form of the company I'm describing would manufacture and
sell only things with software cost properties: High initial cost to
create and nearly no cost to copy.  Software writing would be a
profitable activity, and they would look for more software to write to
increase their revenue.  They would deliver everything in easy-to-copy
digital forms, instead of copy-protected physical objects.


A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) ftp://ftp.gnu.org/pub/lpf
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Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA