Subject: Re: EROS license
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 28 Jun 1999 11:45:28 -0400

   From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
   Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 16:59:06 +0900 (JST)

       Ian> When I explicitly reserve the right to gather up everybody's
       Ian> contributions and use them in ways that nobody else can, it's
       Ian> pretty clear that some of us are more equal than others.  The
       Ian> concept of the team is lost.

   Of course it isn't.  Not everybody can be quarterback, and as Jackson
   Brown put it, "the drummer came up and swept that girl away."  Roadies 
   can hope, but they know in the end the stars get the girls.  Doesn't
   mean they aren't part of the team.

I addressed this elsewhere: a superstar can be on the team without
stretching the team concept, but an owner can not.

   However, aren't you implicitly assuming in "dual license" that the
   proprietor maintains rights in the software that you don't?

Yes, that is the kind of dual license I am talking about.  The Aladdin
license is a very mild dual license.  Let's think about the NPL

       Ian> People do not make rational economic decisions, except under
       Ian> weird definitions of rationality

   Here's the one that economists agree on:

   1) Given appropriately described alternatives A and B, the decision-
   maker (DM) can say whether he likes A better, B better, or is
   indifferent between the two.

   2) Any alternative A is indifferent to itself according to the DM.

   3) Preferences are transitive: if the DM likes A better than B, and B
   better than C, the DM likes A better than C.  Boundary cases involving 
   indifference are treated as you would expect.

   4) Based on available knowledge about alternatives, the DM actually
   chooses an alternative A such that the DM does not know of any
   feasible alternative B which is strictly preferable to A.

   Note the hedges "appropriately described" in (1) and "available
   knowledge" in (2).  The former means that all variables that might
   affect decision-making must be included; it does not prescribe any
   particular form of description (such as "measurement in money terms",
   or indeed even in physical terms).  You can base preference on love or
   money---or any emotion you happen to feel.  The latter means that
   various kinds of uncertainty do not preclude rationality in any way.

   Do you have an objection to rationality defined that way?

   For future reference, that's what _I_ mean by rational decision-making.

I don't object to defining ``rational'' this way when it comes to
economic arguments.  However, this just teaches me to avoid using the
word ``rational,'' since in economics it evidently has a technical
meaning which is quite different from its usual meaning in everyday

For example, this definition permits me to say ``I'll pay twice as
much for this car because it is blue; repainting it would just be too
weird.''  It permits me to say ``I spent $200 on this software, so
there is no way I'm going to start using a free version instead, even
though it is better.''  I would not hesitate to call both views
irrational in the common usage of the word.

Also, this definition has almost no predictive value, except in the
sense of predicting that the future will be similar to the past.
That's reasonable until the government changes radically and you start
to think ``I never really liked living next to those Albanians.''

       Ian> (ones which try to approximate the way that people actually
       Ian> think, namely irrationally).

   The place where the definition above has problems is that in order to
   get the standard "marginal results", which link rational decision-
   making to market prices, we need people to have enough information to
   compute derivatives (we don't need them to compute derivatives!), and
   that seems unlikely.  However, all the approaches I know of to the
   problem show that to the extent that people approximate the necessary
   information, rational decision-making will approximate the full-
   information solution.  And there are strong incentives to improve

Let's not forget that we're talking about contributing to free
software, a process which for many current contributors is not tied to
market prices.  Organizations such as sourceXchange are trying to
create such a tie; it's not clear that they will succeed.