IPL as a burden

Andrew J Bromage Andrew.Bromage at its.monash.edu.au
Tue Jan 16 01:29:52 UTC 2001

G'day all.

On Mon, Jan 15, 2001 at 07:55:22PM -0800, Frank LaMonica wrote:

> If you read the
> rest of my posting, you would see that I continued on by saying the people on
> this list are exceptions - they do care about the source code.  Unfortunately,
> we are the extreme minority.

I did read that and agree that this is the current situation.  I do not
believe that it need be so.

> BTW, your analogy about a car is no longer valid.  Almost all new cars are
> controlled by proprietary programs running in embedded processors that can only
> be accessed by very expensive equipment that is tightly controlled by the car
> company.  The days of tuning your own car without a computer are over, we've
> lost the automobile war  :(

I've never bought a new car, so I wouldn't know. :-)  In fact, I think
this makes my argument all the stronger.  I _can_ run my 15-year-old car
if I want to.  For example, if it was designed to run on leaded petrol,
I can modify it so that it accepts unleaded, LPG or unleaded with non-
lead additives when leaded petrol is no longer sold, as it will be in a
few years' time.  OTOH, try running fifteen-year-old software written
for a platform that is no longer sold if you don't have the source code.

Just so that nobody misunderstands me, I'm making no statements about
economics or law (whether that be the law is it is or as it should be).
I'm merely stating as a consumer what I want to be able to do with the
things that I have paid for.  That's one reason that I use a lot of
open source software.  However, like most people, it's not a "show
stopper".  I would never go so far as to refuse to buy from a company
just because they don't let me tinker with their products.  And it's
one reason why I don't use open source software exclusively.

My point is: the question of whether or not I have the right to hire
any appropriately qualified person to repair or modify a product, the
right to resell it or give it away when I've finished with it and the
right to do any of the above without the permission of the person I
bought it from _does_ affect my purchasing decisions, whether or not I
am personally qualified to do it.

People already think this way about their cars, their PCs, their homes
and any number of other items they have paid money for.  Imagine if you
had to hire the original builder back if you wanted an extension to
your house!  I'm not even close to being a master builder, but I, like
most people who think about it, value the ability to hire who I like to
do said modifications.  I happen to be in the same mindset about my
software, the only difference being that in the case of software, I can
do a lot of the modifications myself.

Andrew Bromage

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