[Israel.pm] OT: Copying intangible property

Mikhael Goikhman migo at homemail.com
Wed Mar 24 12:47:06 PST 2004

[Ok, it was my mistake to post that small 4 paragraph message on this
list. I hope we don't flood too much here. :)]

On 24 Mar 2004 19:22:04 +0200, Jason Elbaum wrote:
[some economical aspects working in the physical world, but not working
in the informational world skipped.]

> Mikhael Goikhman wrote:
> >Think about customers. It is just unrealistic (and unmoral either) to
> >require customers to always pay $1000 on something costing several
> >sheckels in mass production.
> Software is very expensive to produce.

This is true, customers that must have this new software should order and
pay for its creation. This however does not mean such software must
always stay closed after it was already paid.

For some reason you stick to the old model that works with physical
objects where copying is not cheap and want to apply it to the software
or information, where it can't work as well. Copying of information and
software is cheap and you can't avoid it. You should adapt to this axiom
and choose a different pricing scheme that actually works.

Some people believe that most of the programs should have a price of the
media cost. The customers should order specific services together with
such cheap programs that can't ever be achieved for no cost. This
includes among other things adding new features, fixes, and writing new
custom programs.

With such correct pricing scheme, the whole cracking activity is useless
and meaningless, since the program itself may be downloaded freely (but
someone already possibly paid for its creation). This works. For example,
hardware firms pay for creating Free Software that helps them to sell
their hardware systems.

> Software is not knowledge. It is not intangible. It is a physical
> product, stored and used on physical equipment.

Software is as physical as the letters you see right now on your display.
Just open another message to see different latters. There is nothing
phisycal in the software unless you actually speak about hardware.

> Furthermore, knowledge is not free either. Plenty of people make plenty
> of money collecting and selling knowledge.

Similarly, people make and will make money collecting, merging and
selling software (and writting software too, of course). Free Software
works exactly like Free Knowledge here. Everyone is free to legally pass
his copy to anyone else, but still there are a lot of people wanting to
pay for the knowledge.

> If software should be free and not copyrighted, why does "free" software
> always come with a (usually) complex license agreement, restricting the
> user's rights to use and/or distribute it?

I speak about customers who are free to use, distribute and copy, you
speak about developers who are indeed not free to steal and close a free
product (under some licenses at least). For me this is good.

[other anti-free software arguments skipped, wrong mailing list.]

> >Copying proprietary products are illegal in all cases.
> Not sure what you mean by "proprietary products" here.

These are products that are not free, i.e. do not permit copying.

> > Copying tangible products are unrealistic technologically yet.
> The Chinese are doing an impressive job of copying lots of tangible
> products - minus the quality and cost.

This is not even comparable with the intangible property copying. Yet.

> >As for proprietary intangible products, many believe these restrict the
> >basic user freedoms and thus are unmoral to even bother with.
> I don't see what makes software intangible. Software is not an idea.

Software is very much like knowledge. You should apply a knowledge to
something to get a working system. Similarly, like knowledge, software
proper is better to be free, but you should apply it to something to
actually get a working system.

> If someone goes to the trouble of breaking in to a house and stealing
> the refrigerator, does that mean refrigerators are overpriced?  I don't
> see the logic here.

You will clearly see the logic here once you stop to consider software
and refrigerator the same thing. The physical laws are different for
intangible and tangible things.

> Besides, if I create a product and sell it to people, why does anyone
> have the right to tell me how much to charge for it?

Noone has the right to limit you. But don't be surprised if noone buys
your product. Choose some realistic pricing scheme.

> >Of course it is easier to earn for monopolies, they should not worry
> >at all about this.
> Only in the software industry (okay, and music) do major companies have
> to compete with people giving away similar products for free. It's a bit
> absurd to think that anyone can charge excessive prices in such an
> environment.

This is not surprising, since both software and music are available in the
digital form, i.e. in the intangible form. It is commodity and should be
priced accordingly, i.e. not much higher than the price of the media.

> ObPerl: Isn't Perl protected by copyright and licenses? In what way does
> that restrict my rights?

What's up with these questions? All software is protected by the
copyright law. Perl is Free Software, and as such it does not restrict
anything that is not restricted by this law. However, Free Software
additionally _gives_ you rights to copy, modify and redistribute.


perl -e 'print+chr(64+hex)for+split//,d9b815c07f9b8d1e'

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