Subject: RE: Open Source Developer (Economics)
From: "Chris Maeda" <>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 20:55:21 -0500

I've never seen an enterprise software sales cycle where
sue-ability was a factor.  They always hinge on who meets the
requirements at the lowest price.  

The problem seems to me to be more that open source timescales
are off by an order of magnitude compared to the business world.
Want that open source CRM system, sir?  Just wait for 5-10 years
while programmers all over the world build it in their spare time.

If an enterprise wants to use an open source line of business system
today, they would have to pay armies of contractors to spend
months writing and rewriting the system before they could even
think about deploying it.

Having said that, it may be the time for open source to build
business software systems targeted at the needs of small businesses.  
This is an experience base that is readily accessible to the open source
community and it lends itself better to small incremental steps.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen J. Turnbull [] On Behalf Of
Stephen J. Turnbull
Sent: Thursday, March 20, 2003 7:44 PM
To: Benjamin J. Tilly 
Cc: Julius Steyn;
Subject: Re: Open Source Developer (Economics)

>>>>> "Benjamin" == Benjamin J Tilly <" <>> writes:

    Benjamin> One of the commonly cited factors is the question of who
    Benjamin> you sue.  Decision makers often need to address the
    Benjamin> potential fears of what they do if things do not work as
    Benjamin> promised.  With OSS nobody wants to make legal promises,
    Benjamin> our assurances work through community dynamics that are
    Benjamin> unfamiliar to businesses.

I think this is a financial problem more than anything else.  When you
need to recover damages (whether legally or via day-to-day procedures
in the purchase contract) you know you can't get blood from a stone,
and you can't recover damages that are many times the net worth of a
company.  OSS by definition reduces the financial potential of
vendors, both directly by foregoing a revenue stream, and indirectly
by dissipating energy in inefficient directions (it's often the case
that what is "fun to work on" or "profitable to provide support for"
is not the highest-value product for the client).

If the finances were there, OSS vendors would be sue-able.  If current
ones insist on GNU GPL-style "No warrantee, you're supposed to be
giving alms to us, remember?" licensing, somebody would find a niche
(and probably more than a niche) selling "insurance" in one form or
another.  They probably would be better managers (hey, Mr. Steyn,
maybe that's you!) than programmers, but that's called "division of
labor" and it's a good thing.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.