Subject: In the long run
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 29 May 1999 20:17:01 -0000 writes:
 > However, the customers seem to be (slowly?) waking up to the values
 > source code offers them.  (Which doesn't always make them choose GPL;
 > it might help them negotiate better deals with vendors of proprietary
 > software, however, which, if true, highlights the value of GPL'ed
 > code merely *existing*, without even considering whether it offers at
 > least *some* semblance of solutions for some businesses at the time
 > that they need it.)

I've been reading an interesting book lately.  It's entitled _The
Moral Economy_, by John Powelson.
He posits that the great disparity in wealth between Japan and the
Northern European countries (and derivatives: US, Aus., NZ, Canada) is
caused by a slow diffusion of power.  As power diffuses, people become
more productive.  With more production, we get more wealth.  In other
countries, the elites didn't have to negotiate with the peasants, so
this diffusion hasn't (yet) occurred.  Those elites have not needed to
give up their power.  The elites remain wealthy relative to their
peasants, but are poor relative to the first-country elites.

So, as JCB notes, customers seem to be waking up to the value of
source code.  They are starting to insist on using Open Source code
(e.g. Vijay Vaidyanthan of, who refuses to use proprietary
software anymore and replaced his remaining Solaris machines with
FreeBSD machines).  In the end, we'll all end up better off, but those
with power are usually unwilling to give it up.  On the other hand, we
(in the US) are used to the creative destruction of capitalism, and
tolerate its effects (displacement, unemployment, bankruptcies, closed
businesses) more than any other country.

So really, the question is not what license is best for a free
software business, or what license we can impose, or even offer to
customers.  It's a matter of which license they will demand.

-russ nelson <>
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