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Re: [zzdev] :zz,xos: Re: Open Source, more

On Fri, 26 Mar 1999, Ted Nelson wrote:

> In other words, sure you can sell it-- just as long as
>  other people are free to give it away!  (Correct me if wrong.)

Yup, well put.

> That's close enough to freebie public domain for my understanding.
>  In other words, very hard to build a viable business.  Red Hat has--
>  but not nec the other Linux distributors.
> Am I missing something?

Public domain means nobody owns the object in question and you are free to
do with it as you like, except possibly claim it as your own invention.

Public licence is a contract between a group of developers and users to
keep all source associated with an idea freely available to all. In other
words it guarantees that derivitives of public work is also public and
always shall be. It is a solid foundation to build upon.

A common misconception that you don't have is that you can't make money
using public work, but there are certainly a few more examples than simply
Red Hat. 50%+ of the web is currently run on the public Apache web server,
so you could make an argument that any commercial websites using apache
have profited. Some of these users write a new feature or squash a few
bugs in their own interest, and everybody benefits. Netscape drops
Communicator into the public licence and now Mozilla gets better and they
don't have to support it. Also happens to increase demand for their
portal, server, and happens to put a thorn in Internet Explorer. VIA sells
linux tuned hardware. O`Reilly sells a lot of dead trees. Many small
development shops can put together business solutions that actually work
and for a reasonable cost. The synergy is propelling gnu linux towards
critical mass.

The public licence spans a different sort of economy, it can be hard to
decide how a given party might profit sometimes. One thing is for sure
though: The original authors are acknowledged and they generally profit in
some fashion from the attention, be it new jobs, fat IPOs, research money,
capital investment, respect, whatever. Presumably if you invent something
important then you are going to be the highly prized authority on that
subject, and the law of supply and demand still applies...

You would do well to take a long and hard look at the various public
licence. If zigzag has real merit and you put it under public licence then
you stand to interest hundreds (thousands?) of programmers and users and
to witness the resulting explosion in progress and adoptance. It is pretty
much your only chance of getting zigzag onto everyone's box and see what a
couple billion zigzagged minds actually looks like. Unless of course you
sell it to Microsoft. Soon. But of course that wouldn't really work. 

I can understand the desire for "viable business" as a future goal (I need
a new computer), but didn't i hear somewhere that the best way to predict
the future is to invent it? The world is full of patented ideas that made
a marginal or even generous monetary return, but none of them are going to
fix the web.



ps i'd help if i could understand zz or osmic or whatever the basic
concepts are...