[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
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