Subject: Re: Here's a-what I'm a-gonna do.
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 96 09:26 PDT

I would say that I share John's premise that "If we all cooperate, [the
world] will get ... better."  The premise I don't share is that this happens
best if we simply ignore the people who *don't* want to cooperate.  This is
the "free rider" problem, which (judging from my reading of the recent
traffic) Chris Maeda thinks is extremely serious, I think is serious enough
to be worth responding to, Russell Nelson wonders about, and John Gilmore
thinks isn't worth spending time on.

This has been a very interesting discussion for me, because it goes directly
to the reasoning that led me to create the Aladdin Free Public License for
Ghostscript.  I attempted to create a mechanism that would reward
cooperation and penalize non-cooperation, which I think is also the purpose
of the GNU License but which I think the Aladdin License does more
effectively.  I'd summarize the differences this way:

	- The Aladdin License is designed to allow both cooperative and
	commercial use, but the latter requires paying for the privilege.

	- The GNU License allows both cooperative and a certain kind of
	commercial use, and doesn't allow for other kinds of commercial

Would I have been able to build up a business that is now supporting 3
people and will probably cross the $1M-gross mark this year by relying only
on services for revenue (the GNU model)?  No way.  Would I have been happier
going that route?  Probably not: the ability to sock away enough $$ to
complete my retirement kitty in only 5 years of doing commercial licensing
full-time is a powerful motivator for me, and the part of it I like least is
supporting customers with endless problems (one such customer accounts for
about 70% of all the support my business does, and in the
revenue-only-for-services model, I can't afford to hire someone to do this,
because they could offer the same service on their own without the overhead
I have to charge for).  Do I think I would have contributed more to the
world that way?  Nope -- most of the commercial Ghostscript licensees would
simply have gotten a PostScript RIP from some other vendor (they would never
consider GNU-Licensing their entire product), and the ones who wouldn't have
been able to afford it are so small they hardly matter.  In fact, I could
argue that since my testing costs are lower ("cooperative" users do a lot of
this) and my marketing costs are much lower (word-of-mouth in the
"cooperative" world accounts for most of the leads), I can undercut
commercial-only businesses and thereby contribute to the world by leaving $$
that would otherwise have gone to such businesses in the pockets of users.

One could argue that the Aladdin model is not as beneficial or cooperative
as the GNU model, since it prevents other $$-seeking developers from
building on Aladdin's work.  But in practice the GNU License only seems to
benefit two classes of such people:

	- Commercial companies that package GNU software with their product,
	taking advantage of the ability to call such software through 'exec'
	(which is allowed by the GNU License) to avoid the necessity of
	GNU-Licensing the entire product.

	- Companies that package and distribute free software, adding a
	little value in the way of documentation or their own code but
	primarily relying on being cheaper or more convenient than
	downloading the code electronically.

Lowering the cost of commercial software is beneficial to users, as I argued
a moment ago, but the Aladdin License not only does this (admittedly to a
lesser extent, because Aladdin's commercial licenses involve payment) but
steers commercial $$ to developers of Aladdin-Licensed software (which is
available for cooperative use and development without charge), which the GNU
License does not.  Creating a market niche for small distributors whose
value added is largely in packaging and marketing may or may not be
beneficial; I happen to like this kind of business, so I wrote an exception
into the Aladdin License specifically for them.

As far as I know, Cygnus, John's company, is the only substantial business
that doesn't fall into one of the above cases.  I still can't understand how
Cygnus, and only Cygnus, can generate enough excess revenue to support the
overhead of a good-size business solely by doing support and contract
development of GNU-Licensed software.  Or does Cygnus also generate revenue
by developing non-free software?


L. Peter Deutsch          |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
203 Santa Margarita Ave.  | tel. +1-415-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-415-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025      |  -&-  Artifex Software Inc. ::
          "Implementation is the sincerest form of flattery."