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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Re: Rethinking Licensing

Eric Armstrong wrote:
> The risks you allude to may be real, but I don't yet see them.
> How is it that a MS could come to dominate in such a system?    (01)

* US$40 billion cash in the bank.    (02)

* Monopoly dominance on the desktop.    (03)

* Historically effective marketing to senior executives.    (04)

* Brand name recognition.    (05)

* A proven "success".    (06)

* MSDN subscription service for easy delivery of Microsoft code and
propaganda    (07)

* Loyal developer network who knows VB, VC++, and MFC and can be easily
led.    (08)

* Extensive and successful experience declawing the U.S. criminal
justice system.    (09)

* If all else fails, hiring you for $1 million a year plus three months
vacation to start. :-)  But seriously, they did this to Borland
engineers -- led to a law suit. 
From: http://www.borland.com/about/mssuit.html 
> Borland brings this action to stop Microsoft from systematically targeting 
> and raiding Borland's employees. In the last two weeks, three Borland 
> employees have been targeted and seduced away by Microsoft. 
> Moreover, Microsoft has systematically engaged in a plan and a 
> concerted course of action to unfairly compete with Borland in the 
> software development tools ("tools") business by targeting and 
> recruiting more than 34 of Borland's engineering and marketing 
> employees over the last 30 months. Microsoft's actions were taken 
> with the intent to deprive Borland of the resources Borland needs 
> to successfully remain as the only significant competitor to Microsoft 
> in the tools business.    (010)

You also wrote:
> Especially if, say,
>      a) Royalties were capped at 10 or 15% of a product's price.
>          (So percentages would be the norm, rather than a flat fee.)
>     b) The warehouse of code suppliers had everyone's stuff
>         side by side, so even if MS's routine to do X were there,
>         your routine would be right next to it, with pricing and
>         user ratings, as well. So if your routine cost less, had a
>         smaller footprint, and better ratings from users, why
>         wouldn't I use it?    (011)

There already is a warehouse of code on the internet (and in product
catalogs) and has been for some time. Most people are writing in Visual
Basic (and a little Visual C++) because it is from Microsoft and works
well in Microsoft Office. Maybe they can write a little SQL to go with
Microsoft access. That is the reality of (guessing) 80%+ of
non-mainframe data processing today. That is the powerful platform
Microsoft can leverage into their next big success. They are already
doing so, with .Net. So, they might patch your system on top of .Net
using Passport & such for the financial part. By various marketing
schemes (such as bundling a license to use all their code for one fee,
and otherwise threatening a code audit) they may succeed. Yes, a few
independent developers might make some real money for show. The rest of
us may feed off a few crumbs, if we can find work at all.    (012)

One option for countering this? Friends help. A big company like IBM
(hardware&services) [or Intel (hardware) or even Sun
(hardware&services?)] allying with small developers through open source
and free software to level the playing field by creating a mostly free
infrastructure. Their strategies have been in this direction (Linux,
Java) with some success but may still need some more refining. Sun kind
of missed its chance to prevent something like Microsoft .Net with Java
by trying to hold it too tightly (just like ParcPlace messed up with
Smalltalk for similar reasons). Why will a company like IBM help?
Frankly, if all software was GPL, J.P. Morgan Chase would still hire IBM
to outsource their IT infrastructure over randomly trying to recruit you
or I; that's just how that sort of thing works. IBM knows this. But if
Microsoft owns the field, Microsoft will be better able to call these
shots and perhaps develop a more extensive service arm with a
competitive advantage, like Microsoft Office had a competitive advantage
from close coupling with the OS.    (013)

The problem the last decade in software development for every business
plan has been -- "yeah it will work, but what do we do if Microsoft
notices?"     (014)

That's what it means to be a monopoly, and that is why they are so bad.    (015)

Listen to Microsoft -- right now the only thing scaring it is the GPL.    (016)

You want quick adoption and your name in the press as a technical wizard
-- do a proprietary thing like you outline and let Microsoft buy it.    (017)

You want to be called crazy and likely someday risk jail time as the
laws change for trying to help people, go with the the GPL or free
software approach.      (018)

Look, John Deneen quotes Doug just now:
> "Difficulties with knowledge governance. - As another example of our
> still relatively primitive ability to deal with information  exchange
> among groups, consider the chaotic and increasingly frightening
> direction of new laws regarding knowledge governance - most notably
> reflected in laws regarding copyright.  Because it is generally
> technically advanced, one might think that my country, the United
> States, would be representative of leading edge capability to deal with
> knowledge governance and knowledge sharing.  But, instead, we are
> passing increasingly draconian laws to protect the economic value of
> copies of information.  In the US, we are even  contemplating laws that
> would require hardware manufacturers to take steps to encrypt and
> protect copies (ref. 2).
> We are doing this while entering a digital era in which the marginal
> cost of a copy is zero - at a time where the very meaning and
> significance of the notion of "copy" has changed. It is as if we are
> trying to erect dikes, using laws, to keep the future from flooding in..
> The immediate effect of all this is to enable a dramatic shift in
> control to the owners of information, away from the users of information
> (ref. 3) - a strategy which will almost certainly fail in  the long run
> and that has confusing and probably damaging economic consequences in
> the short run.    (019)

I've been listening on and off to the Kenneth C. Davis CD series "Don't
Know Much About the Civil War" and it is a real eye opener.
It turns out, the same thing happened before the U.S. Civil War. With
much of the population of the U.S. was against slavery, increasingly
draconian laws were still passed supporting slavery including finally
the fugitive slave act of 1850
requiring people to turn in fugitive slaves or themselves got to jail.
Things kept getting worse for slaves until ultimately people had to take
sides in a bloody conflict. The rhetoric of slave holders of that period
sounds very similar to the justification for increasing copyrights and
patents such as promoting commerce and a strong U.S. and further,
ironically, a call to support the human rights of slaveholders to do as
they wished with private property (slaves). And for those who think it
is disrespectful to equate aspects of current copyrights and patents
with the immorality of slavery, well, millions of people are dying from
drug patents in Africa, so there is the immorality and the body count
written large.
Software patents are starting to deter innovation in the public commons,
which inhibits the creation of tools that may help every human gain
access to a common heritage of stories and information, which might
lengthen their individual life spans and increase the enjoyment they get
out of life. Perhaps the more I am drawn into all this the more I see
that ultimately this will be a moral, not economic, choice.    (020)

In any case, I'm not going to stop you from making a proprietary system.
But, I did come to this forum from the start to make a "open source" OHS
and I still think that is worth pursuing if "permission to use" issue,
itself part of the legacy the OHS may be about resolving, can be
resolved.    (021)

-Paul Fernhout
Kurtz-Fernhout Software 
Developers of custom software and educational simulations
Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator
http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com    (022)