Subject: what counts as "exclusive right"?
From: Tom Lord <lord@regexps.com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 23:06:09 -0700 (PDT)


Let's (oversimplify and) say there was a big pile of money somewhere
to incent the creation of original Free digital content.

Let's further suppose that we have some technique for assigning
an arbitrary (quanitative) value to new content.  Maybe a sum of
simpler techniques: critical reviews; consumer ratings;  download
statistics...

Under those circumstances, the GPL makes perfect business sense: it
can interpreted as an exclusive right to receive a share of that
big pile of money.   Constitutional support for more restrictive 
uses of copyright would largely fall away.

Two obvious problems: there is no big pile of money; the "evaluation
function" isn't a market and so will probably screw up.

But there's a solution to those problems.  To steal from the PR
rhetoric of one company, there's _projects_ (the FSB equivalent of
(Free) product R&D) and then there's _platforms_ (the complex of
standards, distributions, and services sold by an FSB).

While there may not (or may) be a _huge_ pile of money for speculative
R&D, such pile as there is is most likely to be a "set aside" from
revenues from _platforms_.  So, summing that budget across all the
companies that might create one -- that's the big(?) pile of money.

What about the evaluation function?  Actually putting all the money in
one checking account would create the huge problem of administering
its spending.  I'm sure there's no good way to do it.

But doing the opposite might make better sense: splitting the money up
into lots of smaller pieces, giving each piece to a different person or
group to grant or give away to projects.  Spending in lots of small
increments, using lots of different evaluation functions, both reduces
the risk of each individual decision, and creates a _market_ in which
projects compete for funding.

Thinking of it from the project side, I'm thinking of a sort of
environment in which a project like `arch' (or any other) could
get by (or lose to competition who get by) on grant money that
comes from spending on the order of, say, 10hrs/month filling
out applications and progress reports.  I'm not to sure what it would
look like on the patron side -- other than it would probably 
involve too much paperwork and signature-obtaining at first :-)

-t