Subject: Re: Ransom in practice
From: "Forrest J. Cavalier III" <mibsoft@mibsoftware.com>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 10:44:36 -0400 (EDT)

Norbert Bollow <nb@thinkcoach.com> wrote:

> > Can someone please explain how the ransom model is
> > different and better than what cosource.com tried and
> > failed to do?
> > 
> > Sourcexchange had a similar model that failed also.
> > 
> > Is there something new in the ransom model that I
> > missed?
> 
> Yes... at least the version of the copyleft ransomware model which
> I'm advocating is different (and IMHO better:) in these ways:
> 
> 1.  You first create working code and then try to sell it.
>     If not enough money comes in, the code becomes Free after
>     five years anyway.  So, some Free Software has been created
>     that can be freely re-used in other code.
> 
> 2.  All the techniques which are used by proprietary software
>     companies to market their products can be used with good
>     chance of success.  Hence there is a much better chance to
>     make a big profit on the more successful projects.
> 

Thank you for the summary. Perhaps you are unaware that 
cosource supported the ransom model (paying to free already
developed projects) but did not require it.  They also provided
a lot of the third-party validation and registration mechanisms
you mentioned for building trust and commitment.

If Ransomware is a successful model, why didn't that become
all of cosource's listings?  If I recall, of the 10 or
so projects which did get funded at cosource over two years,
none were ransomware, even though that model was supported.

I do not understand the business justification for
Ransomware.  The ESR argument for open source runs along the
lines of "free it now, and you get the benefits that come with
extra eyeballs."   Since ransomware isn't Free at the
beginning, you must provide some other justification. 

If the motivation for Ransomware is not charity, then
   - there must be business justification to free the code
     at the end
AND 
   - there must be a business justification for telling
     people you will free it at the end (otherwise you
     could just free it at the end without telling people
     ahead of time.)

Are you betting that buyers will be influenced by your
promise to free it at the end?  Were people flocking to
cosource.com and sourcexchange just to support Free software?
If a buyer's motivation is not charity either, then
what business justification do they have for liking this
model over any other?  (Which gets back to the question of
why tell them you are going to free it.)