Subject: Re: Cygnus [was Re: the walls have ears]
From: DJ Delorie <dj@delorie.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1999 22:32:15 -0400


>     DJ> In fact, we make a point of informing our customers of their
>     DJ> rights wrt free software.
> 
> This is the first time that I have seen this statement.

I base my statement on what little experience I have dealing with how
we set up contracts, specifically the custom engineering ones.  We
make sure there's a clause that lets us [eventually] release the
custom sources on the net, for example.  I also have a number of
public case studies I've been given that talk about how the GPL gained
customer X some advantage *because* they could redistribute it.

*I* certainly make a point of telling people all about how the GPL
works for them, and how it's a bonus to be able to redistribute their
sources.  If you're thinking of boxed products, though, we probably
don't do more than present the GPL just like any other shrink-wrap
license.  I tend to think more about contract customers than boxed
products.

When you're an FSB, you have to make all the differences seem like
positive ones ;-)

>     DJ> The fact that our customers usually don't redistribute anyway
>     DJ> is independent of our actions and influence.
> 
> The claim that others have made is that _no_ such redistribution has
> yet occurred.

From what little I know (which *is* little*) about this, that's
probably true-ish for the scenarios you're thinking of, but false in
general.  There are three basic cases where Cygnus does commercial
software that apply to this claim:

* Custom software for electronics producers
* Custom software for electronics consumers
* Generic boxed products

The first group tends to buy software from us, customized for their
electronics, for the express purpose of selling or giving it away.
It's a marketing choice - it makes their products more valuable.

The second two groups probably don't give a rat's ass about anyone
else once they have what they want, so why go through the effort of
doing more than they need for themselves?

> I am curious as to your assessment of their motives, if you would be
> willing to state it.  Is it simply that in general their needs are
> sufficiently specialized that they see no point in even thinking about
> it?

My *personal* opinion (which may have nothing to do with what's really
happening, or what Cygnus's official opinion is) includes these ideas:

* They paid for a competitive advantage.  Why would they give it away?
* They got what they wanted.  Why put extra effort into helping others?
* Laziness?
* Maybe they realize that there's more to "value" than just code?
* Maybe they don't want to mess up a good thing?

Understanding these reasons would be key to a profitable FSB.