Subject: Re: New ESR paper: The Magic Cauldron
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 1999 18:24:37 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Craig" == Craig Brozefsky <> writes:

    Craig> "Stephen J. Turnbull" <> writes:
    >> Second, the free rider problem can be present even if the
    >> project gets implemented; free riding can result in a project
    >> of too small a scale.  Thus the fact that Red Hat doesn't
    >> object to CheapBytes doesn't mean that Red Hat Linux wouldn't
    >> be a better product if Red Hat received a larger amount of
    >> revenues from people who are buying CheapBytes.  You don't
    >> explicitly deny that, but you leave the impression that it's
    >> not a problem---call it a "bug in the exposition."

    Craig> One might want to note that this is the same stinky brand
    Craig> of logic that the SPA and others use to calculate losses

How perceptive of your nose, since logic neither stinks nor smells
sweetly of roses; it is valid or invalid.  The logic of the SPA in
calculating damages is in part correct (the incorrect part is the
assumption that list price == marginal revenue).

    Craig> due to software piracy(sic).  All of the people who snagged

The assignment of the damage to the companies is a legal question.
Assignment of intellectual property rights are evidently instrumental
decisions on the part of society (see the US Constitution).  I take it
you support socializing all software, so that the application of
copyright law itself is immoral?[1]

However, this is totally irrelevant to _my_ argument.  The logic is
similar, but I haven't specified to whom any surplus should accrue,
except that implicitly I see it being used for further development of
free software (in some loose sense).  I know you have no problem with
that.  So what is your problem?

    Craig> PhotoShop from their local warez puppies do not have the
    Craig> money, or would be willing to spend the money to by
    Craig> Photoshop had that been the only option.  Just as everyone

This is still theft according to law.  "Piracy" it is not, of course.

    Craig> who bought CheapBytes did not have the money to blow on
    Craig> some shrinkwrapped copies of RedHat with documentation that
    Craig> is dewmed to be out of date in a few months.

This is of course not theft, also according to law.

Speaking of stinky logic:

    Craig> In both cases, Adobe and RH do derive some benefit from the
    Craig> set of users who are now exposed to their product who
    Craig> otherwise would not have been able to afford it.  Of

Yes, and this is explicitly part of AutoDesk's business plan, although
the suits keep trying to revise it.  But your logic applies equally
well to Photoshop (whose owner's business plan is evidently
different), cars, and cupcakes, unless you are a software socialist.

    Craig> course, neither of them have any say in the matter.  Adobe
    Craig> can't possibly enforce their IP rights effectively, and RH

So?  I can't enforce my prohibition against cheating on exams
effectively either.  I take reasonable precautions and prosecute when
I catch, though, and the students know this.  I have yet to see why
that is unethical.  What's the difference?  Or am I wrong to prohibit
cheating?  After all, it's just information, and no student should
have a property right in the information in his or her head; the point 
of education is that all have the right to the information.[2]

    Craig> is required to release their work.

    Craig> So maybe, Eric didn't present it as a problem, because it's
    Craig> not really a problem unless your trying once again to
    Craig> maximize your game-theory model of an FSB, a practice
    Craig> radically divorced from reality.

Of course it's divorced from reality.  We don't know what the "right"
class of models is yet.  But any attempt to model social behavior
rapidly diverges from reality.

And what I'm trying to maximize is the weighted sum of utilities of
all members of society.  Unrealistic, maybe, but ethically it should
be unexceptionable.

[1]  Truth-in-advocacy notice: Personally, I believe that intellectual
property rights are ethical rights; forcing a person to give the
benefits of their heart and mind to anyone not of their choosing is
wrong.  However, I do not base any of my arguments on that belief,
because I am well aware that many reasonable people disagree
vehemently, and therefore any conclusions I draw using that assumption 
will be invalid for them.  I also am painfully aware of the conflict
between those rights and economic efficiency, precisely due to the
creation of artificial scarcity where there is no real scarcity; I am
resigned to the need to compromise those rights in some ways.

[2]  That line is not original to me, by the way.  It was proposed to
me by another student who wanted to pick my brains on an exam in
graduate school.  After she tried to con me out of the information she 

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