Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2001 09:50:18 +0100

Well ... that seems at least to be the current political wisdom.

but ...  this wisdom evolved for the economy of the 19th century, with
high investments and significant marginal costs in the production of
goods, and with generally tractable network effects.

  In the economy of intangibles, none of these premisses are true, and
there is good reason to believe that other ways of allocating goods,
of creating incentives might be more efficient, if only to avoid
monopolies that are the unavoidable result of current economic structures
in the realm of intangibles.

  The whole set-up is artificial anyway, based on how exchanges are
regulated.  And in the world of intangibles, regulation is everything.
Intellectual property (IP) laws  are in no way natural.  They are
artificially created and enforced, and strongly structure the system.
But there is no proof that this is optimal.
  It may be in some cases it is.  There is evidence that in others it
is not.
   For example I am still trying to find a single economic study that
asserts that the cuurent extension of patenting to software and
intellectual methods in fruitful, better for economic or technological
growth, of for a better society.

  If you have any, please tell me ?  (with references, please)

  If not ... are the statements below fully justified  ?


On Sat, Dec 22, 2001 at 02:34:19PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> Scott Capdevielle <> writes:
>     >> In my opinion, a more civil society would freely share their
>     >> intellectual property, rather than restrict and charge for it.
> That's not a civil society, that's a children's sandbox.  (In a good
> sense, I'm talking about a pack of happy children, playing and
> learning together.  I spent the morning in one.  :-)
> In the adult world, people are willing to work (ie, do things that
> aren't immediately fun) in order to earn the resources they need to
> have more fun when they're not working.  So what should they do first?
> If you think that's a question worthy of careful consideration, then
> you implicitly accept pricing of resources, including intellectual
> assets (not "property", which is a legal concept).  Prices are simply
> the dual variable (in the linear programming sense) of waiting time.
> Although it would be nice if we could do things according to Marx's
> Maxim ("from each according to his abilities, to each according to his
> needs") it turns out that _even in a world where everyone states their
> needs and abilities accurately and honestly_ there is no more
> efficient way than the price system to set priorities.  (In the
> mathematical economics literature, this is called a "realization
> mechanism".)
> Interestingly enough, making people actually _pay_ the price they say
> they're willing to pay also works in a world where people are either
> dishonest or inaccurate in stating valuations.  (In the math econ
> literature, this is called an "incentive" or "implementation
> mechanism.")
> Of course, it's mere math, and may or may not reflect the world "well
> enough."  But it provides strong reason to believe that establishing a
> "civil society" in the sense you mean will be either extremely
> difficult, or quite a bit poorer in material (including software and
> other intellectual assets) goods than the society we do have.
> Perhaps poverty is compensated by civility.  I certainly think so: my
> salary as a professor is only a fraction of what I could make on Wall
> Street (however, I'm tempted).  But I have come to understand that the
> vast majority of human beings disagree with me.
> >>>>> "Kevin" == Kevin A Burton <> writes:
>     Kevin> I think that the developers work is certainly worth paying
>     Kevin> for.  We just need a decent (micro?) payment system that
>     Kevin> can support this :)
> Find one, and you will get very very rich on the nanocommissions---you
> could live comfortably on picocommissions.  :-)  I think it's highly
> unlikely that a practical one exists, though.  The collapse of the
> distribution-oriented dot-coms was not an accident.  Rather, it
> reflects just how well-tuned the existing market system is to
> delivering goods to the paying customers, in the face of the inherent
> defects in the valuation system.
> -- 
> Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
> University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
>               Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
>               ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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