Subject: Re: [may be junkmail -pobox] Re: Will freeware change the business forever?
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 20:09:49 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 26 Jun 1998, Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> What you're seeing is the software industry starting to compete on
> cost.  That competition will increase until current notions of
> intellectual property are replaced with ones that exploit and showcase
> nearly free digital duplication.

I am certain that this will happen eventually.  I hope it happens
peacefully, much the way Linux has taken over much of the ISP and
web-hosting market.  I would never participate in violence myself, but
it looks like the current IP industry is going the way of Ceaucescu,
and may come to the same bad end.

Some examples:
- Several small South American countries have established special
  courts for prosecuting software "pirates" in order to please the US.
- "New" software technologies -- multimedia, voice recognition,
  multiscale and see-through user interfaces, audio compression,
  encryption algorithms, advanced security schemes -- are covered by
  patents that will make free software in these areas impossible.
- The recent WIPO treaty illegalizing breaking copy protection, even if
  the things you do after breaking the copy protection are legal (under
  fair use, because the information is public domain, or whatever)
- Recent moves to incorporate copy protection into low-level media
  (DAT, DivX, DVD, FireWire)
- Patents on natural substances and processes.  (There's a company that
  has a U.S.  patent on growing basmati rice in North America -- the same
  company that sells Texmati rice, I believe.)
- the efforts underway to create sui generis IP restrictions on database
  use

These things are likely to significantly impede the progress of free
software and its associated movements -- free music, etc.  What good is
free music if your hardware keeps you from making copies of it?  What
good is free software in the same situation?  What good is free
software if it's patented?

We have, I think, about two years to show the world -- in particular,
the developing world -- what free software can do.  If we can do this,
we may be able to push back the advancing tide of strangling IP kudzu.
If we can't, the masses of the planet are likely to suffer oppression
of a degree never before seen in the history of humanity.

Kragen