Re: Rohit -- don't hack too hard :-)

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From: Adam L. Beberg (
Date: Fri Mar 24 2000 - 17:46:27 PST

On Fri, 24 Mar 2000, Kragen Sitaker wrote:

> "0" is not exactly right; they actually have substantial sales in
> China, many of which are site licenses. And even in the
> least-copyright-respecting parts of Asia, the ratio doesn't go much
> above 30 unlicensed copies per licensed copy. A thirtieth of a billion
> is still a substantial number.

I doubt there will ever be anywhere near 1/30th of a billion Windows
PC's in China. A 30:1 piracy rate isn't anywhere near acceptable enough
to justify costs. I can't imagine what the MSFT stockholders would have
been happy about if instead of the million win2k sales mark they settled
for 30,000.

> There are a few US software companies founded by immigrants --- Borland
> comes to mind, and perhaps Be --- but the vast majority of US software
> companies are founded by native-born US citizens. The "everyone comes
> here to pay the bills" argument simply doesn't hold water.

Yea, so there is no reason at all for the software industry to be
completely paniced about the visa situation, there are no foreign
WORKERS in the industry. And no foreign offices of american companies
either. No worries.

> > No IP rights, no point in writing software/music/movies, no software
> > industry, no anything digital industry.
> I think this might be false. The vast majority of hours of work spent
> by programmers are on bespoke projects, where the software user pays on
> a time and materials basis to develop the software. (I think the
> fraction is something like 70%.)

So lets ignore that hidden 70% of internal top secret software used only
by other geeks. What about the other 30%? Who will write apps for mom
knowing there is no money in it? I can't think of one opensource(tm) app
that's mom useable; the only ones that are even close are exact clones
of commercial apps.

> Cygnus was wildly profitable for ten years before they ever had any
> outside investment, selling nothing but support and bespoke software
> development for free software. EDS, Keane, Compuware, OriginIT, Ciber,
> and Arthur Andersen sell the same things, albeit mostly for proprietary
> software.

Bingo, supporting proprietary businesses and software. That 70% that
wasn't my topic in the first place - their product isn't software,
software is a cost. But you can bet the companies they consult for
depend on IP rights to survive. You cant tell me for a second all those
genome companies are looking for genes just for fun. They do it to get
patents so they can make money. No IP rights, no gene hunting, no hired
programmers, no hope of keeping up with the machines.

> IP rights were necessary in the age of printing presses and movie
> reels. They're probably still necessary for those media. They are
> nothing but a crippling load of overhead for digital data on the
> Internet.

Crippling to whom exactly? If IP rights didn't exist for software, geeks
would simply find something else to spend their creative energies on
becasue they have to eat. Rootbeer isn't free, never will be.

> Free software enables programmers to deliver much greater value per
> hour of work. Partly as a result, Cygnus's income per programmer is
> considerably greater than Keane's.

Sure it is, all that free help goes right to the bottom line :)

> The quality of proprietary software is a disaster. It has always been
> a disaster.

Most software is a mess, proprietary or otherwise. Noone likes to test,
or document, or any kind of quality control - the last 10% that takes
90% of the time. At least with proprietary software someone will get
paid to do it eventually.

- Adam L. Beberg
  The Cosm Project - -

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