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


Jack Park wrote:
> I may have created the opportunity for misinterpretation myself by using
> the term 'micropayment' which, as I understand the origins of the
> transclusion process, was, indeed, a *per-use* charge, with all the
> attendant concern about costs and so forth.  Indeed, I wasn't thinking
> about that particular brand of micropayment, rather something much closer
> to what Jason Hunter does and which Eric describes below.  The software is
> free; essentially take it and have fun with it, learn what you can, and so
> forth.  But, there is this simple financial incentive to "join the club"
> and add value to it. I did not intend that there be an interpretation of my
> thoughts that each click would cost something, though I think I can see how
> that interpretation got license.    (01)

Sorry if I misinterpreted. I just looked at:
  http://www.servlets.com/index.tea
but I still don't see the business model there. I think I am missing
something here as well as in understanding Eric's point. At some point,
these plans require someone to make a purchasing decision, right? And at
that point, the overhead of the financial system may become a conceptual
burden as the purchaser thinks about whether to pay or not. Maybe you're
talking about purchases of material goods and the developers of the web
site kicking back some money when someone buys a football? I can see how
that isn't the same thing as a conventional micropayment, except that
the end software developers might always just choose not to use your
code anyway. Still people do reuse code, but your system will have to
compete against existing frameworks (like WebSphere etc.) And, after
all, software is a bit like clay, and once you've learned to sculpt, do
you really need lots of molds and premade clay pieces? Chuck Moore
rebuilt pretty much every new Forth system from scratch. Many of these
systems are built using some open framework and some custom code. Are
you really going to beat what other proprietary stuff is out there right
now? Why waste your creativity on that? If you're reinventing, at least
reinvent freedom.    (02)

> At no time am I attempting to add a cost to the OHS.  But, at the same
> time, I am, in some sense, stepping back from the '*open source* concept
> and moving in the direction of the *free software* movement, but with the
> twist that my *free software* is always free until you decide to sell it,
> at which time, I'd like a tiny fee for each copy and I'll share that
> revenue with those who have made my work possible.  I might even be willing
> to negotiate volume discounts, and so forth.    (03)

But the overhead of all this negotiation etc. could be quite high.
Example, big companies don't buy much shareware (and thus supposedly
don't use it intentionally) because it is too much trouble to pay for it
given their accounting systems. (Individuals figure out tricks like to
bundle it into trip expenses, but these are kludges...) I've read of MLM
schemes breaking down as the complexity of managing royalty payments to
so many people becomes unwieldy. How do you even know where to send the
checks? I guess the internet makes some of this potentially easier, but
you'd need a totally structured development environment for the software
case tracking every use of every piece of code -- probably one too rigid
for my tastes. It's not all that easy to determine derived works -- what
if a person wants to merge two functions from different vendors? Or
split one into two parts? The overhead of this system may rapidly cost
much more than any authors are making. At that point, then everyone
should just work for a big company (or the government) and get
salaries...     (04)

> My motivations are related to my experience working with kids in high
> school in a Java programming course.  I tend to think that if kids saw a
> nearer-term opportunity to turn their work into beer <strike that> soda
> money, they might take the learning exercise more seriously.      (05)

See:
  http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/motivation.html
"Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator: Creativity and intrinsic
interest diminish if task is done for gain ... In the laboratory, rats
get Rice Krispies. In the classroom the top students get A's, and in the
factory or office
the best workers get raises. It's an article of faith for most of us
that rewards promote better performance. But a growing body of research
suggests that this law is not nearly as ironclad as was once thought.
Psychologists have been finding that rewards can lower performance
levels, especially when the performance involves creativity. "    (06)

> Paul's comments on having licenses evaluated, on securing 'buy-in' by those
> you really need to buy in, are well taken.  My hunch is, however, that the
> GNU Linux experience making it into enterprise and into schools shows that
> such things are possible, particularly if there is a need.  The school with
> which I am involved has a CTO who is MS-certified, so cracking that entity
> is only going to happen when MS stops giving away their product or vendors
> slow down on the massive discounts, and the school finally has to pay the
> true license costs associated with the number of copies of Office they are    (07)

See:
  http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/04/22/1719218&mode=thread
> As reported in this article in the
> Portland, OR newspaper, The Oregonian, Microsoft
> is pressuring 24 school districts in the northwest to agree to their
> Microsoft School Agreement licensing scheme or undergo an audit
> in 60 days. Multnomah ESD, which covers the greater Portland
> area and has around 25,000 computers, has to either decide to
> accept the license at about $500,000 or undergo the audit which it
> does not have time to prepare for. Of significant interest is the fact
> that a significant majority of these schools are experimenting with
> using Linux. Multnomah ESD has its own thin-client Linux distro
> called K12LTSP."     (08)

and the followup:
  http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/10/1752243&mode=thread    (09)

Let's see, perhaps someone should set up an organization to adopt this
strategy for raising money for free software development: Employees of
this organization would cosy up to school officials, teachers, and
students, find a reason to think the school district have even one
unpaid license of any Microsoft product, and turn them in to Microsoft
for part of the money, pushing their way in with the police to gather
evidence. Then the organization makes money to support grants to free
software developers, and schools get forced to eventually turn to free
software out of prudence. Oops, we already have a similar organization
that sort of does this, except they don't make such grants (just keeping
money for themselves and perhaps giving some to members):
  http://www.spa.org/
Not that I'd do this myself as it would be mean and I believe
antisocial... But this place will pay up to 10,000 a pop for copyright
infringers:
  http://www.cla.co.uk/copyrightvillage/ 
I remember in high school social studies class a big thing being made
somehow (racistly?  nationalistically?) about how in Soviet countries
and Cuba the cultural valued people turning in their friends and family
for wrong thinking and this allowed dictatorships, but in America that
could never happen because people, especially families and neighbors,
stuck together. Well, that reward is for the UK, but I think there are
similar financial temptations here like with unleashing the SPA on
people who share. I can think of numerous companies with at least one
license somewhere possibly out of compliance across thousands of
machines. Why, just the other day I was in a store listening to pleasant
music playing from a CD changer they had and it occurred to me I could
turn them in to RIAA and maybe get a bounty as chances were they weren't
paying performance royalties or keeping a playlist. Luckily I don't
think it is yet a crime for me not to turn them in. Would I anyway just
for the money? No. But someone else might. And someday someone will --
and they might earn money for it. And laws are imposing more and more
criminal penalties for copyright violations, so that storeowner might
someday soon do a little jail time too. Easy way for kids to make beer
or soda money you suggested above once they figure it out -- just turn
in their own teachers and principals to Microsoft or the SPA (perhaps if
they are mean after framing them if nothing obvious presents itself).
Nice way to get a problem teacher off their back and into prison if the
laws change just a little bit more and possibly even now (and so much
easier to prove and less embarrassing to report than other accusations).
Just one Microsoft CD slipped into classroom and out again -- and there
is soon money in the piggy bank and icky Teacher Smith is suspended.
Great way to get kids started on a career in a police state and with a
nice nest egg for paying for those proprietary e-books needed in a
likely future college education. One of the most horrible Star Trek:TNG
episodes for me is where Picard is graphically tortured by a person who
lets his little daughter watch, the torturer saying it is good for her
to learn such things. Picard replies something like, be careful about
teaching your children to hate others, because they might direct it
against their parents someday. Well, be careful about creating
situations where children learn to make easy money being snitches and
framers, and where they are taught how sensible it is to hoard
information that costs them nothing to share. OK, so why not teach kids
from day one about charging for sharing so they are better able to cope
in the future world? Better outlaw bringing in cookies for the class too
-- sets a bad example you know. Obviously I'm being sarcastic here --
since as Richard Stallman points out, sharing is the fundamental basis
of human society. Mess with that, and you'll produce a disaster.    (010)

> Eric's comment that this scheme turns each of us into a publisher nails
> it.  That, I think, can serve as a foundation for a financial ecosystem. To
> explore that notion a bit, consider that I happen to sell widget A and, no
> matter what you sell A+B (where B is your widget that uses A), I want, say,
> $1 for A.  Theoretically thinking, your widget B could be the one widget
> that everyone wants and you get to sell it for $500.  I still get my $1,
> and I'll pass some portion of that along to those who made my work
> possible. In theory, you will do same in your accounting process. And, I
> imagine that if your marketing projections suggest that you expect to sell
> a million of your widgets, I should expect you to come and start arguing
> for a reduction in my $1 fee. Frankly, I'd like to have such *problems*.    (011)

In your example, what if I wanted to make a 1/2A+C? Or translate A to
Swahili and distribute it for free in printed documentation to refugees?
Or what if I got a new development environment and want to use your code
in it outside the system you expect me to use -- do you then want to
audit my business and see my customer list? I don't use the best
cross-platform software development environment I know of -- VisualWorks
--in part because of this audit requirement, and that after having paid
them about $9000 years ago for a license to a pre-runtime fee version
that now doesn't run right on the latest Microsoft OSs. Sorry, I've paid
enough for proprietary software with various restrictions and privacy
invasions, no matter how good it is. I'll have some of the free stuff
like more Python, please.    (012)

If you want to make the point, maybe there could be a specific detailed
example with a realish-product related to software outlined with
transactions involving ten authors (A-J) and a few purchasers (P-R)?     (013)

But frankly, I don't think you're going to persuade me -- because the
big issue is "free as in freedom" -- and any such system is probably
going to involve many unfree aspects. Why should I help you do this?    (014)

-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    (015)