GPL not encouraging new technology

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Wed Dec 4 23:30:00 UTC 2002

On 3 Dec 2002 at 23:58, MJ Ray wrote:

> > Why isn't RedHat in the position of Microsoft? Or are 
> > we claiming that in not much more time, it will be?
> Because RedHat are not in the monopoly position?

I was more meaning the supplier to the most people ie; industry 

> > Copious historical evidence would show that if you have money, you
> > can buy the best and the brightest of any speciality and get them to
> > do what you want. That means rich people tend to stay rich and
> > indeed get richer.
> Erm, I think you'll find copious historical evidence will point to
> frequent structural changes and disturbances. 

Ah no - structural changes and disturbances *upset* the status quo of 
rich people staying rich and getting richer. Without them in fact, 
the elite would remain impermiable.

> > That is what I mean. I am holding them to different standards
> > because they are two totally different beasts. One is all about
> > primarily generating profit whereas the other is primarily about
> > generating software. It's in the nature of proprietary to subsidise
> > new works whereas it's not in the nature of "free" software - there
> > it's a case of enough enthusiasm pointing the same direction.
> I think I found the absurdity: do I win a prize?  You seem to be using
> tests whose outcome depends on your beliefs in order to back up your
> beliefs. This is a feedback loop, surely?

:) It indeed could be. I've done that to myself a few times actually, 
but it never holds for long.

No, I'm trying to compare the overall long-term consequences of each 
ideology. I look at each one's nature and from that try to draw the 
probabilities of their behaviour. It's similar to comparing fascism 
and communism - they're very unalike but essentially about the same 

(Note: I am *not* relating either fascism or communism to this thread 
- it was an analogy, nothing more)

> > Well I wasn't wanting to be filling the list with my replies, so I
> > was keeping them all in the one reply.
> No.  It breaks threading and makes the discussion difficult to follow.
>  I am sorry, but this conversation is not about who can write the most
> in the fewest messages.  Please stop this thread-mangling, else it
> will look like you are trying to deliberately confuse people and some
> will not strain to read your replies.

Depends if you use a threading email client. I personally don't like 
them, so I don't. But for your benefit please note the four or so 
messages thus far!

> > I fully understand the free 
> > software business model (it's a service), it's just (a) I don't
> > believe it makes much money (b) it isn't good long-term for
> > software.
> 1. There is no *the* free software business model;

"the" usually means the most common one which is what I meant here.

> 2. I believe your beliefs are forming your beliefs again.

Again, possible but I don't think so.

> > I think it does. Capital goes where it can make the most profit, and
> > free software does not make much profit therefore it's a bad
> > investment.
> Once again, I suspect you have no basis in fact for this?  Ethical
> investment (and I believe that free software is more ethical) has
> outperformed profit-chasing investment in the last ten years (based on
> a comparison of managed investment funds).

Yes but a comparison of the ethical funds to their opposite, 
deliberately non-ethical funds (these do exist - they invest 
exclusively in drugs, sex, petrochemicals and the arms industry) 
shows the non-ethical is not promising. I remember differences of 5-
10% p/a, but this was some years ago. I *do* know non-ethical 
investments perform excellently in recessions and do pretty well in 
boom times too.

> > The best long-term option is to maintain ourselves as an innovation-
> > based entrepreneurial manufacturing industry.
> Nothing in that statement requires proprietary software.

No, but as I've been saying all along I don't believe free software 
encourages either entrepreneurs nor radical ground-up innovation. 
Still no one's proven me completely wrong here, so I'm beginning to 
think I may be right ;)

In the end, I foresee the same as you - this thread will peter down 
to a point where it becomes a question of faith - do you believe or 
don't you because as was previously said, this argument is probably 
unwinnable for either side.

Still, I will have considered it all worthwhile if either side is at 
least more familiar with the concepts and topics involved. I hope the 
majority in here will do so too.


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