Subject: Re: Cygnus and proprietary software
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 23 Dec 1997 04:16:49 -0000

Brian Bartholomew writes:
 > I've asked some of my own CUSTOMER PROSPECTS, people that CONTACTED ME
 > about my software, what they would think if I released Host Factory
 > libre.  18 out of 20 respondants told me point blank (and I love each
 > and every one of them for their candor) that they could never justify
 > a purchase to their organization for something they could download.
 > [...]
 > Why should they pay for it if some other schmuck is going to foot
 > the bill out of some misguided sense of socialism?

I didn't say that they could download it.  The only way to get this
hypothetical software is to purchase it from you or download it from
one of your customer's sites.  Now, which of your customers is going
to foot the bill for distributing your software out of some misguided
sense of socialism?

Just because the software is freed, that doesn't mean *you* have to
give it out.  Now, what are the costs and benefits of doing that?
You'll lose the "free" advertising value of the software being
downloadable.  You'll lose the hand-to-hand distribution that
distributed libre software gets.

You might also make it more expensive for the would-be socialist.  You
might make your services contingent upon their not exercising their
right to distribute the software.  This has effects similar to source
code escrow.  As long as you're supporting it, they won't bother
redistributing it.  But in case you don't supply support, they have no
reason not to redistribute.

-russ <>  | Freedom is the
Crynwr Software supports freed software | PGPok |   primary cause of peace.
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | Obedient, Christian, statist:
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   |    you only get to pick two.