My alternative busines model

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Thu Dec 5 22:14:17 UTC 2002

On 5 Dec 2002 at 11:51, MJ Ray wrote:

> Niall Douglas <s_fsfeurope at> wrote:
> > This is off-topic, but no - I consider monopolies to be the 
> > inevitable consequence of capitalism. [...]
> I'm not so sure this is off-topic.  I think it is probably one of the
> beliefs that you have not been stating that is wildly different to
> most people in this group, I think.

That and the difference between information, software and math. These 
two appear to be among the fundamental axioms that are leading to our 
differing opinions.

> > We use artifical legal restraints to try and prevent them but it's a
> > bad fit and never truly successful.
> The "artificial legal restraints" are what grants the current set of
> business monopolies: copyrights and patents.  There is nothing natural
> or innate about one business being able to prevent its competitor from
> mimicking its public methods.

Heh - when I said "artifical legal restraints" meant in general 
regarding holding back the excesses of capitalism - nothing to do 
with copyright or patents.

> We have found a way that copyrights can be used for the opposite goal:
> to prevent monopolies; and I hope that someone has found or will soon
> find a similar tool for patents.  The difficulty is that we are
> probably further behind on the patent "arms race" than the copyright
> one.

With regard to software, you're right - by banning software patents 
European industry hasn't bothered patenting anything so if that were 
changed, we'll be all the worse for it.

Patents in general are mostly used for defensive purposes ie; I take 
out patents so if anyone tries to sue me for patent infringement, 
then I can sue them back. Same goes for royalties - IBM has almost 
all its royalty payment waived because they can point to some patent 
they own and say "ah, you must pay us for using this".

However especially of late there has been an increase in offensive 
patent use ie; companies which produce and use nothing (and therefore 
can't get sued for patent infringement) suing others for infringing 
their patent portfolio. The US is likely to legistlate against these 
someday, because they're pissing off the big players (who don't like 
to be exploited like they exploit others).

> Maybe abolishing these legal restraints would be a good thing, but
> that would be a very large structural change and I doubt we could
> forsee the outcome reliably.  Anyone up for a gamble?

Me personally - yes. I'd also throw out lots of other things too 
while I'm at it. But given the conservative nature of society, it 
won't happen except in times of severe economic hardship.

> > That's one of the many reasons capitalism
> > is broken and will have to be replaced someday.
> For now, it's the last man standing in this part of the world... can
> you forsee anything replacing it?

Yes, a number of options actually. I won't repeat the books by 
Fritjof Capra, they're all excellent and his vision is 99% my own 
plus he has references!

What's good to know is Europe is arguably making the first steps 
along the way to replacing capitalism. Basically it starts with 
placing a money cost on everything directly related to its real cost 
(currently everything is as cheap as possible according to supply and 
demand). That would involve ecotaxes especially, but also such things 
as people losing their job costing heavily. Eventually one would move 
away from a money-orientated value system to perhaps an energy-
orientated value system or indeed something else.

Anyway, all this is off-topic and Fritjof explains it much better 
than I. Any of his books except his first explain more in detail. His 
website is on


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