[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Why only one non-free section?

On 15-Sep-1998, Sven <luther@dpt-info.u-strasbg.fr> wrote:
> > If you really want to get a cut of the profit, why not start
> selling CDs?
> i am not speaking for myself, but i see that some people dont like
> this kind of thing, and in particular i am thinking about people
> developping software at universities. i don't think it is that they
> want a share for themself, but that theier university wants a share of
> it so as be able continuealy support the the peoples who develop said
> software.  do you suggest the universities start selling debian cds to
> finance themself.

I suggest the the universities grow up.  They are supposed to
be in existance to spread information, not hide it from the world
for profit.  This is what happens when bean counter start running
institutions instead of those interested in what the institution
stands for.  I have nothing but contempt for such intitutions (and
it is even worse when you consider that most of them were established
and are still subsidised for by public money).

Universities do not rely on licensing fees from software to hire people.
Often the software produced is a byproduct of other research, and is
useful to everyone in the field, and can advance the field.  This kind
of software should not be withheld from others in the same way that
research results themselves should be openly published.

If a research institution goes down the path of extreme proprietary dealings,
I believe they should have their rights to circumvent copyright
(researchers have special rights in copyright law) and their public
funding stripped from them and they should be treated like a
profit-making business.

> also another concern for this peoples is the right to modification of
> the software, someone can take the software modify it and then sell
> it, without according credits to the true author, or giving some of
> the money back to it.

So?  Are they interested in money or research?  If they copyleft it
all they have to worry about is being cut out of the credits.

Copylefts tend to solve this problems, because the source
availablity of the copyleft makes sure people don't get too ridiculous
in charging for software, and that the source is available.

Butting someone out of the credits is rude, but it's hardly the end
of the world.  I find it hard to believe any researcher is so vain
they would stop people using their stuff because they are worried
that their name might be left off it.  If your name is in the copyright
notice it should be fine anyway, since you can't change that.

In practice it's very rare for it to happen.  Nobody seems to be
forgetting who Linus is, despite the fact the Linux kernel can be taken
and renamed and sold.

Admittedly, you are taking a gamble, but I think it's better than having
nobody use your software at all.

> how can a university make a financing deal with a private company to
> exploit one of their product, if said company can just grab the source
> and develop it for themself.

Copyleft it.  If a company wants to exploit it (good choice of word)
they can pay big $$$ for a non-copyleft license.

Besides, usually you find the company wants the technology, and the
expertise involved.  If they could develop it themselves, they wouldn't
be trying to finance a university to do it for them.

> in the current situation you cannot even say, you can use this
> productnbut you have to make a $5 donnation to debian :).

For some people $5 is a months wages.  Usually people in rich
circumstances make these schemes up, unintentionally depriving the
poor of a chance to use software.  Any scheme which forces a
payment will mean there are people who want to use it who will be cut
out.  Even a postcard or an email registration is a difficult task in
some places.

The idea is that these sorts of restrictions will always cause
problems in some situations.  If Debian disappears, you cannot send
$5 to them, hence you cannot use the software at all.

> i think this kind of problem is not so much about the distribution
> vendors, altough some take a big share for the cds, hey redhat is 50$
> or such, but more the big companies, with big money, like microsoft,
> sony, ibm, ...

RedHat provides technical support, multiple CDs, printed manuals,
marketing, shelf space, pretty boxes, advertising, etc.
The $50 covers those costs, it is not too much.  And I dare say
RedHat supports free software by doing the best thing it can --
it hires developers and provides resources.

I have no problem with their $50 box, it's a good service.
I wouldn't buy it myself of course ;-)

If big companies start using Debian or any sort of Linux, that
will mean more jobs out their enhancing, customizing, supporting,
writing drivers for, distributing and writing about it.
Developers can benefit from all these jobs.  Many many Debian
developers are also consultants (on Debian).

With free software you do give up the luxury of getting paid a few
dollars royalty on every copy.  That day is gone (consider how long it
would hold up anyway when these days competitors dump product for free
to get foothold on a market).

But if you give up that game, you get a place in the service industry
emerging around free software.

> Friendly,


Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.     - Benjamin Franklin

Tyson Dowd   <tyson@tyse.net>   http://tyse.net

Reply to: