Subject: Re: How accurate is Metcalfe's law? (Was: Ximian software)
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: 05 Jan 2002 14:33:35 +0900

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:

    Ian> But the only true scarcity in the software world is people's
    Ian> time, and software licensing is not closely tied to that
    Ian> resource.

Software licensing is _all about_ compensating people's time, because
it's the only[1] way to link the value of the developer's time to the
value received by users (including downstream developers).

Try this reductio.  Suppose developer time were free, ie, any IP could
be invented around quickly.  Would anybody bother paying lawyers to
enforce IP on instantly obsolescent goods?

Nobody on this list likes the way that current IP law implements that
link.  Certainly it is a distortion of some ideal.  But that link is
strong and intimate.

[1]  It is precisely the transaction cost of dealing with software
licensing on a bit-by-bit basis that we all want to avoid, but if we
make compensation cooperative/voluntary, the essential part of that
cost -- communication between developer and user -- does not go away.
So no license, no compensation in the vast majority of usages.

The gift economy does not eliminate transaction costs, because without
communication it is simply a form of solitary vice.

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.