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

Re: Supply and Demand

  On Mon, 24 Nov 1997, Chuck Swiger wrote:
  > This (dumping and free software) seems like such a tricky double-edged
  > sword to master: rampant piracy can destroy a company; rampant piracy
  > WITH A HOOK can rake 'em in. 
  If we really want to engage in intelligent debate about the software
  industry as a whole (and not just one-handedly bash Microsoft), one
  must properly understand this issue.
  *This*, I believe, is one of the few areas where the software
  industry is vastly different from previous industries which inspired
  anitrust law. Since when was Mobil ever able to give away cars for
  free but to reap its profits from the demand for fuel?
  And yet Adobe gives away Acrobat Readers, Lotus hands out a free
  ScreenCam viewer. Netscape hands out free prerelease betas. Novell
  hands out a free beta of NDS on NT and of NetWare Replication
  Services. The list goes on.
  How to untangle this mess? Is the only difference that Microsoft
  already holds a monopoly, and is illegally leveraging it?
  Is it moral for a software company to give away free betas of free
  software, but only if they stop on the day that they gain powerfull
  marketshare in any market they are competing in? Or if they only give
  away free products *inside* the market they already have a (legal or
  natural) monopoly in?
  Or is it legal to give away free software only as long as nobody else
  is trying to make their living of selling similar software?
  Or should companies who give away free software only be allowed to
  start charging for it if they made such intent, and the date at which
  they intended the free status of the software to expire, known from
  day one?
  And what about free software?
  There never was free carware or free oilware or free electricity
  before. It is an economical factor that didn't exist when the
  antirust laws were formulated. But free software is a formiddable
  force towards obtaining the aims that antitrust wants to obtain.
  Should the right of people to develop free software be protected?
  Should it be illegal, once a technology has become ubiquitous, for
  commercial companies to collude in order to prevent free software
  from competing with them?
  Because the way in which the big companies founded the I2O
  consortium, in the hopes of making I2O the dominant server hardware
  platform, but requiring developers to sign NDA agreements before they
  can support the I2O platform clearly has the *effect*, if not the
  intention, of making it impossible for free software like Linux to
  ever run as server on I2O hardware.
  Its not a simply question of "Microsoft is evil, and get rid of them
  and all is well". What you Americans need is to lay down clear
  *principles* which will guide the entire software industry, or else
  all the trigger happy American way in which you sue left and right
  will just sow Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt :-)
       /_)              /| /
      /   i e t e r    / |/ a g e l