Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

You keep using that phrase, "free market".

Author:Seth Gordon
Posted:8/25/2000; 9:11:44 AM
Topic:Next survey: Are you an open source developer?
Msg #:20192 (In response to 20117)
Prev/Next:20191 / 20193

I do not think it means what you think it means.
GPLed software is not part of a "free market." In fact, its stated purpose is to destroy the free market...
Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom, noted that in a capitalist economy, it's OK for you (if you have the money) to sell anti-capitalist propaganda. People who are out to destroy capitalism have the same freedom of contract as everyone else. RMS's disagreement with the copyright laws does not prevent him from using those laws to enforce the GPL. Also, many programmers who use the GPL are not out to destroy the software market, but consider the GPL's terms to be in their selfish interests (see David Adams's comments, elsewhere in this thread).
If $250.00 is too much to ask for a particular product, a free market will let the vendor know by declining to buy until the price is reduced to what a buyer is willing to pay. But the GPL undermines this natural free market process by undercutting the product even if it is a good value for the money.
Markets don't decline to buy, customers do. If customers have a choice between GCC and a $250 compiler with better performance, and they all decide that the better performance is not worth $250, then the $250 compiler is not a good value for the money.

If GCC in fact kills off all its proprietary (what you would call "commercial") competitors, then I would say the free market has worked to set a market value of $0 for compiler source code.

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