Linked by David Adams on Tue 26th Oct 2004 16:30 UTC
Editorial The software industry is undergoing a gradual transformation, and consumer fatigue is at its root. The licensing model that has formed the basis for the modern software industry is facing challenges on many fronts, and the industry is scrambling to keep its footing. Where this period of change may lead software producers and consumers isn't quite clear, but some trends are emerging. Since the proliferation of the internet, unauthorized redistribution of digital goods has become rampant. But although software sharing probably won't kill the software industry, the reasoning behind it shares some pedigree with the customer revolt that promises to transform the way software is sold.
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Time investment
by David Adams on Wed 27th Oct 2004 15:25 UTC

"One thing I've not seen mentioned in either the article or all the preceding comments to this one (58 as of the time I wrote this) is the amount of time and effort required by a creator of software to learn and master their trade sufficiently well to create the product."

This is indeed a good point, and it's one of the reasons why music, software, movies or anything else should never be free (gratis) unless the creator wants it that way. There are many reasons why a creator of a virtual good might want to give it away for free, and they should be free to do so. But the truth is, no matter what happens, all these kinds of goods will always have some production cost involved, whether it's education, hardware, or just office space.

And there isn't anything wrong with the creators of software, music, or whatever having the hope of really hitting the jackpot with one of their works. That one of these days one of their programs or songs will become really popular and make them a lot of money, even a disproportionate amount compared to the amount of work it was to create it. And that's because 1) I believe in a free market where people have the right to create goods and sell them without some authoritarian regime judging what is a fair return on their investment (and pocketing the rest, of course) and 2) because trying to make a living in the music or the software business is hard, thankless work, and most of the people who try, fail.

All those people plugging away in order to try to hit the big time, motivated by that dream, has always been the primary engine of the world's innovation and economic development. If there isn't that possibility of wild success, not as many people would end up trying, not as many people would endure the initial hardships.

Therefore, even though I recognize in this article that the IP-based businesses are bogged down by obsolete layers of middlemen and the struggle to maintain the old order will only damage its long term viability, I still think that in order for this system to work, there must remain a way for creators to be rewarded for their work, and to have the possibility to be rewarded far, far beyond their input in those rare cases where the work is desired by many people.