Subject: Re: the Free Software Movement in Industry
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 24 Aug 2001 15:00:28 -0700

jameson@caldo.demon.co.uk writes:

> >>Anyhow, I don't think writing everything as free software is a
> >>prisoner's dilemma, because it's not obvious that, e.g., everybody is
> >>better off if telco billing system is free software.
> 
> surely if telephone calls were free there would be no need for billing software at
all
> and undoubtedly more people would be a little better off, so perhaps
> the thing to do is to form the FTSF: the Free Telephone System Foundation.
> if it's the right thing to do for all software, why shouldn't it work for
> telephone systems?

Because telephone calls are not software.

Or, because you are confusing terminology.  When we speak of free
software we mean free-libre.  You are talking about free-gratis.  As
far as I can see, it makes no sense to speak of free-libre telephone
calls.

Or, because if telephone calls are free-gratis, then there is no
strong incentive to make the telephone system more efficient, so it is
not necessarily the case that more people are better off.  This is the
kind of tricky tradeoff which societies have to make: should services
be provided by the government or by private industry?  These days, the
weight of opinion seems to be generally on the private industry side,
except for services which are considered to be so important that it is
better to accept inefficiency than the chance that somebody will not
be adequately served: police, defense, pollution, workplace safety,
health (at least in civilized countries), etc.

Ian