Subject: Re: ransom
From: Adam Theo <>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 17:46:49 -0400

Tom Lord wrote:

> I meant: "Isn't it obnoxious _to_developers_ if, in order to get paid,
> they have to restrict their code sharing to terms which support
> ransom?"

Hmm... I don't think so. I see this particular case of restriction of 
code to be quite fair. I understand there are alternatives to 
restricting to make money, such as selling support, freelance 
programming, etc.

But the problem with the support model is that not every programmer 
wants to do support for their software. Perhaps they don't like dealing 
with customers? Perhaps They want to spend their time programming, not 
talking? To force this model as the only way to make money isn't right, 
I think.

And the problem with the "extra programming" model (freelance work, 
consulting, enhancements by order, etc.) is that there are only so many 
of these jobs to go around. Not every free developer can work for a 
traditional software company, simply because the bosses will quickly 
decide it's more efficient to have one full time freelancer instead of 
many smaller ones, or similar amount reduction claims. Most companies 
will either have a programmer in-house to do the modifications, or 
someone like Red Hat will take it upon themselves to do the feature 
enhancements and ports and sell it to boost their market share. They are 
quite successful at doing this already.

> In addition to being of benefit to the general software-consuming
> public, the GPL is very convenient for developers -- it enables "open
> source processes" characterized by very loosely coordinated, extremely
> efficient cooperation.
> Even if we find a way to share pre-Free ransom code among developers,
> now the decision to re-use that code is complicated by having to keep
> track of the state of each component in the "ransom pipeline".

Yes, agreed, but I think this would be a minor inconvenience in the 
scheme of things. All that has to be done, really, is to check the 
programmer's website, ask on a relevant newsgroup or mailing list, or 
check with a central "Ransom news site" to see the status of any 
Ransomed project. The last is a tool I plan to try and impliment to help 
out the Ransom model.

Best yet, though, if you find the code Ransom is close to being met, but 
isn't there yet, you could pay the small remaining sum (or organize it 
among your coworkers to have it met) and now only get the code freed for 
everyone then, but also get the many fringe benefits that come with it 
such as having your name publically praised in the newly freed package, 
a free burned CD with the package on it, complete with any 
documentation, examples, and other tools, etc.

It is understandable if you don't have the resources to pay for the 
Ransom yourself, so i'm going to work on another tool that can be used 
to connect and coordinate among potential ransom payers. It could be as 
sim[ple as a mailing list, but would be best with features that manage 
percentages of payments, bidding, and other such things.

> Any business model that involves paying people to do their job in 
> ways that are necessarily worse than what they're capable of is, at
> least, suboptimal.

Well, I guess it comes down to your phrase of "what they are capable 
of". As I see it, only a small percentage of free and open source 
developers are capable of effectively selling support or being employed 
at a software company. So Ransom is the next, maybe only, viable 

Also, "Any business model that involves paying people to do their job
..." seems a bit off. That assumes that getting paid by slightly
restricting code is a very bad and evil thing for everyone, which I
don't think it is. Many people, myself included, see slightly restricted
code as a viable driving force in business. You can try to make money
off of products you have absolutely no control or even influence over,
but you're likely to fail to bring in profit. Look at history.


    /\    -- Adam Theo, Age 22, Tallahassee FL USA --
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