Subject: Re: Ransom GPL Licensing: ethically and legally viable?
From: David Kaufman <>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 15:58:30 -0500

Robin 'Roblimo' Miller <> wrote...

> I believe the current U.S. societal respect for people like
> programmers, lawyers, drug dealers, politicians, investment bankers,
> salespeople, wealth inheritors, TV anchormouths, and other
> non-physical workers -- and the consequent lack of respect for people
> who actually grow food, make  things, fix things, and otherwise keep
> society cranking -- is a major social  problem.

i have to agree with you there.  if an auto mechanic drives off with a
$40,000 BMW he was entrusted with to repair, he will be chased down by men
with guns, forcibly placed in chains, and thrown into a cage with murderers
and rapists.  but when a corporate executive, stock broker or politician
steals ten times that much money, it is considered merely "white collar
crime".  they are treated like gentlemen, and in many cases go to federal
"country club" prisons that offer fully stocked libraries, computers and
cable tv in the cells and, of course, tennis courts.

> Now away from politics, back to "ransom licensing."
> This has got to be the worst name anyone has ever come up with for a
> software licensing scheme. "Threshold Licensing" would be better...

*anything* would be better.  it seems that we programmers are the most
myopic group around, with respect to marketing sense.  if we, as a group,
weren't so completely engulfed in our little techie-worlds and didn't tend
to surround ourselves so thoroughly only with others that speak the lingo, i
doubt we'd even be able to *guess* that "Free" software does often cost
money, "hackers" are not, by definition, criminals, or that "ransom"
licensing didn't involve some sort of abduction followed by physical threats
and extortion.

i'm not saying it should be renamed warm-fuzzy-bunny licensing just for the
sake of a "brand", but something that doesn't evoke visions of tied-up and
blindfolded family members with guns to their heads might encounter just a
bit less market resistence...