Clarification on my call for license change

Gerhard W. Gruber sparhawk at
Sat Feb 16 14:51:36 CST 2002

Patrik Stridvall wrote:

> No, it won't. There is nothing save ignorance that would
> make the other customers pay for it when can have it for free.
> Granted most customers are ignorant (as far as software
> development is concerned). But building a viable business model

That's why they are customers and not developers. A customer is exactly
for this reason a customer because he is fairly ignorant (or incapable)
of doing the job he needs to support his business and many customers
don't want to have this knowledge because their job is another thing
than developing code.

> of it is not possible. If just somebody in the world realizes
> the flaw he can contact the companies in question and
> point this out to them and for a fee do the work of recompiling
> their application for them.

You are assuming here, that any given customer will sit and wait until a
suitable patch is released. That may be true for many and that's what I
wrote about my earlier job in my previous mail. But if this is an
important feature than he will pay for it because he needs to. If this
is released for others this is no problem because for others apparently
it may not be that vital otherwise they would have paid for it in the
first place.

Another implicit assumption here is that customers pay for a given piece
of code. In my opinion they are often not doing that. Instead they pay
for a service. They pay for the service that they have someone whom they
can contact and who will code if neccessary. So even if they use an OS
code that doesn't imply that they never again will pay for any service
based on the assumption that any given functionality they will need will
turn up sooner or later. Most larger customers (and I think that's the
one who are intersting for business models) are not willing to bet their
business on the fancy of some developers. They want to have plans they
can follow so they in turn can tell their customers when and how a given
problem will be solved. That's why xGPL also works for companies.

I was once arguing with collegues because they maintained that if MS
gave their code for Word to OS then nobody would buy Word anymore and
they couldn't make any money from it. I stil say, and that is the point
here as well, that this is not true. Private indivudals won't pay
anymore, but usually they are not the money anyway. Really large
companies, with their own development staff might also choose to develop
and maintain themself, and there may be some loss. But the majority of
smaller companies would still pay for the service of maintainence and
for adding features they need and I bet that even bigger companies who
could afford their own development wouldn't choose to do that. Why
should they? It's more sensible to let somebody develop that who know
about it. The code is there as an insurance should the developer ever go
down, but not for developing by everybody else.

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