Subject: Re: Novel anti-software-patent article
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Sun, 9 Jan 2000 19:20:28 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "DJ" == DJ Delorie <dj@delorie.com> writes:

> <RANT>
> Why does everybody hate stockholders so much?  Aren't you all mostly
> stockholders yourselves?
> </RANT>

    DJ> I wouldn't invest in a company that didn't consider the "big
    DJ> picture", including both giving back to the community and
    DJ> maintaining good relations with the general public.  It's my
    DJ> personal opinion that companies that don't consider such
    DJ> factors will do poorer than those that do in the long run, and
    DJ> I want my money to indirectly help the common good, of which
    DJ> I'm a part.

Good for you.  Me too.  But does that mean that that must apply to
everybody?  Many stockholders are far poorer in human capital than you
and I are, and must make their financial capital go as far as
possible.  Is that a sin?

    >> precedence, but what put a GUI on my mother's kitchen table was
    >> a combination of the marketing muscles of IBM and Microsoft.

    DJ> That's not innovation, that's service.

It surely is not "invention."  It is, however, innovation, if they do
it first--no matter who invented it.  It doesn't matter what form the
contribution (that puts an invention out where the public can use it)
takes; what matters to the definition of innovation (as used in
technical economics, and which happens to be appropriate to this
discussion as well) is being first.

One thing that is different for software from other industries is that
marketing (and tuning the product to a mass market) can be far more
costly than development.  This makes innovation look very little like
invention in software.

Tell me, DJ, which is a better product, the DJGPP/Cygwin family or the
Microsoft C family?  And which has provided more benefits to the world
in terms of programs written and being used more often by more people?
Wouldn't it be great if DJGPP/Cygwin had the market penetration that
MS's products do?  Do you really think that simply eliminating MS's
restraints on trade (like the long-time problem with "windows.h")
would allow DJGPP or Cygwin to achieve MS's market penetration?

I don't.  I think it would take far more marketing muscle than Red Hat
+ Cygnus can muster to do that, assuming a level playing field.  One
way to pay for that kind of marketing muscle is to award the innovator
a monopoly.  I don't know if that's the best way to do it.

But I don't know of a better way.  Ie, "active" way.  I will admit
that the "non-way" of dropping IP for software entirely looks pretty
attractive relative to the current situation, but that's damning with
faint praise!


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