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

Re: Galeon R.I.P?

On Tue, Jan 01, 2008 at 05:08:20PM -0500, Hal Vaughan wrote:
> On Tuesday 01 January 2008, Paul Johnson wrote:


> >
> > Hardware has scarcity which software lacks.  There's no economic
> > reason to sell software.  Programmers should sell their service since
> > trying to sell the product is, by definition, going to piss customers
> > off and limits their freedoms.
> There is, though, economic reason to not release software code.
> If I had to open source the part of my system that goes on my clients' 
> computers, someone who didn't put in the effort to develop it would 
> start a company without the development costs and cause me serious 
> damage.

I think this is often an over-inflated worry. I dabble in hacking on
some open-source stuff a little bit here and there. In any
sufficiently complex project, there is a *huge* learning curve to become
proficient enough to truly support a product, much less meet
customers' needs for changes and improvements. 

Sure, I could take whatever code you open and probably hack at it and
make it do a few few things differently in pretty short order, but
that would catch up with me quickly. Either the customer would need
something I simply wasn't yet in a position to implement, or I woudl
break something in some unforeseen way and end up mired in spaghetti
source code I don't fully understand trying to hack my way out of the
proverbial paper bag. 

So if your code is sufficiently complex to cause this kind of
difficulty for someone using it to compete with you, then your own
expertise will win out in the end. You'll be able to implement
changes, track down bugs, support users etc with much more efficiency
than the competition and in the long run win out. 

If your code isn't sufficiently complex to force this situation (I
don't mean gratuitously complex, BTW), then maybe your code isn't
worth all that much anyway? (no comment intended on your code
specifically, just talking generalities here)

> But maybe I'm wrong.  After all, it's so easy to take a moral high 
> ground and say you know what's absolutely right when you're the one who 
> has nothing at stake by following what you say.
> There is a serious need for balance in the field of IP.


>  While some feel 
> it's okay to download any song for free and others want to control 
> everyone's complete use of a song, movie, or software (for instance, 
> the MS license that does not allow using standard XP as a web server 
> for public use), we do have to remember that it takes work to produce 
> IP and much of what's out there would not be there if it weren't for 
> people and companies being able to get a return on their investment.

I think the disparity comes in when the profit motives far exceed the
realistic income expectations of a normal human being. It wasn't more
than about a generation ago that song writers didn't get rich writing
songs, they just made a living (and often a meager one at that). Same
with musicians. There was a fragmented market with many people in many
places earning a small living doing creative things. Now you have
mega-corporations making huge profits by pushing a handful of
"artists" at us. THey've consolidated it, provided an artifical
scarcity of sorts by controlling the market, and created an atmosphere
where if one doesn't make *millions* doing music, then there is no point
in doing it. 

How many peices of software, or support contracts or whatever do you
have to sell to make a decent living? And do you expect to make that
living continuously for an extended period of time without continued
work? or even develop and grow your products to the point where not
only do you make a living, but you make many times more than a living
and develop a large corporation? I'm not criticizing with these
questions, just putting them out there as things to consider. 

ISTM that open source sort of levels the playing field a little bit,
gives some control back to the little guy, allows little guys to make
a living, possibly, with systems much more complex and robust than
what one person could create on their own all as a benefit of the
communal nature of the product. It's all food for thought, IMO. 

Happy New Year!


Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: