Input on anticompetitive characteristic of public code

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Fri Jun 22 06:28:22 UTC 2018

Thanks Cryptie (and Carsten) for the reply.

>> * What can we bring up on the other hand in favor of publishing as Free
>>    Software from a competitive point of view?

> They are asking to assure that people pay multiple times for the same 
> work.
> This is not a question of competition but of getting a rent on something
> you have already being paid to do.

That's very true. OTOH this is usually rejected by the other party
with an argument of "the development cost is split among many copies".
If this were true, the price would drop abruptly after the package is
successful, but nobody understands this. So it really is an undue
lifetime rent, but the message is not easily conveyed.

> The anticompetitiveness is the fact that proprietary software does
> not allow all IT company to compete for providing support or new
> features.  This is what Free Software assures.  It is thus the
> opposite of anticompetitive.

Right. Maybe a strong point would be that while we agree that the
proprietary approach is competitive at the outset (where several
company may compete for the tender according to features/price) it
fails miserably in the long run when the usual lock-in practices turn
the system into a monopoly. A free approach is competitive at the
outset, where features and price can be compared like above; and it
remains competitive in the long run where support/enhancment/migration
can be offered by any competent player.

One easier point to be made is the requirement for careful evaluation
of the exit costs of any solution proposed in a public tender; lock-in
practices (or just migration costs) are a reality, so an
administration must evaluate them before being stuck forever with a
greedy or unreliable provider.  This is an argument that proprietary
lobbyists strongly oppose, in my experience, because they have have no
counter arguments. They rather work hard to silence it altogether.


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