Subject: Random interesting thought
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 09:28:53 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ben" == Ben Tilly <> writes:

    Ben> 1. Does granting copyright to software whose source is in not
    Ben> made available progress the useful arts and sciences?

I agree with Karsten that this is not the venue for the discussion of

That siad, I would like to observe that this question cuts to the core
of the "FSB conundrum."  Because the answer is "yes".  The point is
that the information in software is itself useful (in combination with
hardware); it does not need to be implemented, it is the
implementation of its utility, and in this way it is like a novel or a
painting.  By making it available in any form, the implemented
technology available to the world is increased.  It would of course be
yet more valuable if source were made available to other developers,
which is exactly what software patents do[1] ... do you really want to
go down this road?

Note that an artist who dicovers a new technique is not required to
make it public, eg, it is not immediately obvious how world-class
flautists can produce a sustained note that lasts longer than the
Guinness Book record for breathholding.  Yet they are allowed to
copyright recordings of works using that technique.  (This is
regardless of the fact that as it happens the theory was developed
more or less publically and IIRC "circular breathing" was achieved in
practice more or less simultaneously by several top flautsits with
Ransom Wilson being (one of?) the first.)

Thus, to make money in the untis of MSFTillions of dollars, one must
control redistribution of the software in any form that can easily be
turned into an executable.  It is arguable that for any developer to
make a decent living let alone Gatesian gobs of money, odds are not
good without proprietary licensing.  (Yes, I know the arguments to the
contrary, both theoretical and the several examples.  I'm simply
saying that the argument for proprietary terms is quite plausible.)

Note that ESR's "most software is not developed for sale" argument
simply says that the incentives of the developer's client motivate
against redistributions, so no _external_ controls (such as IP) on
redistribution are necessary.

[1]  Jefferson did not say it had to be in the public domain, which
has specific meaning in law; of course that was preferable to IP, but
probably not achievable.  He did not want (a) trade secrets or (b)
technology left undeveloped for fear of not being profitable (worse).

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