Subject: Re: Economic incentives to produce software in a free software regime
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 18:29:43 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Crispin" == Crispin Cowan <> writes:

    >> That's not bundling; that's offering the service of
    >> preinstallation.  Bundling means denying consumers the choice
    >> to to without.

    Crispin> Gotcha.  I was unfamiliar with that distinction.

My bad.  I should listen to what the people mean, not to what the
words mean.

    Crispin> It CANNOT raise the price to the licensed users, since
    Crispin> they've already paid.  It can only affect the price that
    Crispin> future licensees will pay.  And as RMS points out, this

That's what I meant.  Future licensed users---when the future arrives,
they will be licensed.

But let's use your word, and add an adjective:  paying licensees.
This covers both past and future, and both proprietary and free
licensing regimes.

I can see no ethical justification for discriminating among the
paying licensees.  So any ethical argument you want to make should be
possible under the assumption that all paying licensees pay the same
amount, at whatever point in time they actually do pay.  I find any
argument that appeals to price discrimation suspect, to say the least.

    Crispin> discussion takes on vastly different meanings, depending
    Crispin> on whether the sharables in question are proprietary or
    Crispin> free software.

You bet.  I find it particularly unpleasant that if it's proprietary,
"sharing" possibly lowers price to all (but it's legally stealing),
whereas if the software is free, sharing probably decreases the
quality for everybody in the future by choking off development

My point is not that permitting sharing of software is a bad business
strategy or social strategy.  I think that in many cases it's an
obvious winner, and I expect that the vast majority of economists and
businessmen will be astonished at how large its field of applicability 

My point is simply that "sharing" is at the expense of a specific
class of users.  It is not free as in "free beer."

[offtopic, but possibly of interest]

    >> Generous.  [Economists] are not going to do better than the
    >> weatherman, ever.

    Crispin> Even if you could do that, you'd have a major
    Crispin> breakthrough.  Right now, anyone who can predict major
    Crispin> market crashes with as little as one day's notice can
    Crispin> make vast fortunes shorting stocks.

_That_ is going to happen no sooner than somebody simultaneously
measures the position and velocity of an electron with infinite
accuracy.  And for an analogous reason: measuring (even by oracle) the
system changes it.

As for reliable prediction, Wells Fargo did make (save) a fortune
because they did predict Black Monday, about one hour sooner than
anyone else.  In general, the institutional investors with the best
systems made out quite well.  I'm not a specialist; I won't tell you
the market is overvalued.  But if you're in now, you'd better believe
that in a hypothetical crash you won't get out in time.  Day traders
would get seriously bloodied.

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."