"rights" and "freedoms"

L. Peter Deutsch ghost at aladdin.com
Sat Oct 16 13:58:39 UTC 1999

> Right now programmers working at shrinkwrap software houses do not collect
> any royalties on their work, so that in and of itself offers them no 
> incentive. They only get paid for the actual services they provide. 

Out of money that would not be available unless per-unit fees were charged.
You didn't get *my* point.

> It's just a matter of whether you get paid for your services by a
> middleman (essentially a speculator hoping to resell your work to someone
> else for more money) or by the consumer (a company trying to use some
> software, looking for some help).

You're trying to color the discussion by using the word "speculator", but it
won't wash.  The key difference is whether one can sell the same work
product more than once.  It doesn't matter whether the programmer does it
directly or whether it's done by a middleman.  With the free software model,
one can only sell the work (as opposed to the distribution service) once;
with the proprietary model, one can sell it to many people who are willing
to pay for the value it brings them.  As the cost of distribution drops, the
free software distributors will lose their ability to make a living by
charging for those services.

> If you develop an important free software program, you will find no
> shortage of paid work, helping end users integrate and use it in their
> business.

The vast majority of free software is user-unfriendly.  Much of the paid
work you refer to is available because free software authors either don't
know how (more likely) or don't want to empower users to do their own
installation and integration.  I speak as someone who has been able to
install every piece of Windows software without reading anything more than
the "quick start" documentation, and who has had to spend thousands of
dollars on consultants (some of whom were incredibly incompetent) in order
to get my Linux systems installed and configured properly.


L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises :::: ghost at aladdin.com
203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
Menlo Park, CA 94025     |        http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/index.html

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