The OSD and commercial use

David Woolley david at
Tue Nov 26 21:29:15 UTC 2002

> Imagine if you went to a store and say a display of chairs. Imagine the
> price 
> tag said "Non-commercial sitters: free; commercial sitters: $100". Imagine

I'm sure I could find counters to even this, point, although they tend
to involve the fact that commercial buyers buy through different 
channels.  It can work both ways - some things are almost impossible
to buy as a consumer, at least in sensible quantities.

As a slightly more software like case, technical journals often have
higher subscription rates for businesses and, possibly, even more for
libraries.  Some  use the use of a personal cheque to detect non-businesses.

However the most software like example I think of is the public transport
in London.  A transport ticket basically represents a licence to travel
and (like commercial software in its entirety, and the author's rights
for open source software) often remains the property of the transport
operation).  As well as point to point tickets, one sort of ticket that
you can buy is a one day ticket that allows unlimited journeys, but is
licensed only to one person.  Whilst there are technical measures to
frustrate people who pass tickets back over the barriers to a friend,
these tickets are anonymous and compliance is not possible to check,
except where a handover to another person is seen by the revenue
protection people.

Like software, a lot of people don't really see handing a ticket they have
finished with to someone else at a suburban station, but it is still fraud.
At some of the major termini, career criminals act as ticket touts and buy
used tickets to resell to other people.  They get arrested from time to 
time, but any fines are an occupational hazard.  These are the equivalents of
software pirates.

Moreover, certain classes of people, like the over sixties, can get annual
tickets that allow completely free (off peak?) travel.  These are tied to
a photograph, but visual inspections of tickets are rare (on trains) and
the automatic barriers cannot check the photograph.  This is done partly
because such people are considered less able to afford the tickets (they
are an analogy to the non-business software user), but also, probably,
to reduce vandalism by keeping transport occupied at non-peak times.
I suspect, at least for over-sixties, there probably isn't much fraud,
but the point is there is still very little positive enforcement.  (I think
that they have a ticket for the automatic barriers, although there is
usually a member of staff present when the barriers are operating.)

(One can also buy photographically authenticated annual tickets.)

Children get cheaper tickets, and there almost certainly is fraud there;
the barriers can be set to sound an alarm when a child ticket is used.
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