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Why Making Money From Free Software Matters

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the root-of-all-business-models dept.

GNU is Not Unix 224

Glyn Moody sends in what could be a watershed article, if the recording and movie industries are paying attention. "People have been making money from free software ever since Richard Stallman started selling GNU Emacs on tapes for $150 a pop. That's been good for hackers, who have often managed to make a living from their coding by working for one of the startups based around free software. And as companies like Red Hat and Google have grown in size and profitability, so have the credibility and clout of free software. But there is another reason why the success of these new kinds of businesses is so crucial: in many respects they offer a glimpse of coming shifts in other industries that need to grapple with the conundrum of how to make money from goods that are freely available. In particular, they offer the music and film industries an example of an alternative to fighting people's natural instinct to share digital abundance, by making money from new scarcities."

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I own the most scarce of commodities (-1, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997652)

First post!

Re:I own the most scarce of commodities (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997722)

Free as in beer is great - if I had a ton of money I'd write giveaway, open source stuff all the time as I enjoy programming. Unfortunately I ( and most other people) have to earn a crust: It's just the way of the world. I try to give as much as I can if someone has a "donate" button on their site to support the guys - everyone's gotta eat.

Re:I own the most scarce of commodities (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998652)

That's a reply to the frosty pisser ?

Generational turnover (4, Interesting)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997680)

It is human nature to dig in one's ideological heels against change, especially when money is involved. Substantial changes or the oft-cited paradigm shift often have to wait for an older generation to die off.

Re:Generational turnover (4, Insightful)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997766)

I agree with you. This is off topic, but I wonder if there is evolutionary value in resisting change? Maybe to make sure that which is new stands a rigorous test to ensure it has a rightful place in history? Or perhaps to challenge our already set ways and give strength to existing process?

Google, here I come...

Re:Generational turnover (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997934)

Oh, definitely. Two main things:

Assuming that you are the incumbent(whether The top dog, or just one of the people for whom the status quo is working quite well, thanks), every day you successfully delay change is another day of profit rather than loss, and risk rather than security. There may be a point where you cut your own throat by resisting change(either the cost of resistance simply becomes too high, and consumes all your profits, or your resistance actively precludes your taking advantage of certain options in the changed future); but until you reach that point, a rearguard action is totally rational, even if it is inevitably doomed on the medium to long timescale. The degree to which rearguard actions are logical is increased if you have access to overt or covert subsidies. In the media case, they've been very effective in lobbying for copyright infringement, and its tools, to be ever more criminalized and, once criminalized, made a greater law enforcement priority. Fighting change is always cost effective when you are using somebody else's money...

Second is that change is only really inevitable in hindsight. Many changes have been successfully fought, even though their proponents were convinced of their inevitability. Incumbents who don't fight change don't remain incumbents for as long as incumbents who do; because almost any change, unless it is truly structurally unsound, can push you over unless you push back; but only a relative few changes are irresistible(and, even in those cases, see point 1).

On the minus side, I would be rather more surprised to see a net positive value in change resistance("net positive" in the "overall value across a society" sense from econ). Incumbents, by virtue of being incumbents, so very often have access to other people's money with which to fight change. Therefore, it is logical to suspect that(because of that effective subsidy) a greater-than-socially-optimal amount of change-resistance is generated. Further, all but the most dramatic innovations have a period of manifest inferiority to existing, well-polished, methods. During this period, they can be smothered in the cradle at comparatively low cost.

Re:Generational turnover (2, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998524)

evolutionary value in resisting change?

Oh, definitely. Two main things: (blah, blah)

No, it's way simpler: changing to a new state is risky. Evolution has taught to minimize risk and avoid it. Let someone else be brave, I'll stay here in my hole.

Re:Generational turnover (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998126)

Substantial changes or the oft-cited paradigm shift often have to wait for an older generation to die off.

Why wait ?

Re:Generational turnover (2, Insightful)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998218)

Except that the older generation is managing to codify many of their ideals in Federal and International law. We really don't have time to wait for them to die off.

Re:Generational turnover (1)

MZeora (1707054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998920)

Laws can change. Just Bugger the Elected Officials / Local Warlord enough.

Fundamentally different things, though (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997730)

You can't really equate software and music/movies. Music and Movies are consumable products. You get it, you consume it. Maybe you watch it or listen to it more than once, but it's the rare consumer that uses the media as the means to an end.

Software is typically a means to an end. You don't install Linux just to have Linux. You install it because you want to do something with it. Same with web browsers, office suites, and just about any other software. The exception would be games which are meant to be consumed similarly to movies and music. But on the whole, most software is meant to help you create something else. Whether it be a resume, a presentation, a spreadsheet, even more software, the software exists as a tool, not a thing to be enjoyed in and of itself.

That's why it doesn't make sense to compare the music/movie industry to the general free software industry. The media industry is involved in making consumables, and that means they provide a finished product to the customer. The software industry provides tools which have ample room for customization and service work. The two industries start from different premises, so that's why software can be free whereas media cannot.

If you want to compare the industries, it makes sense to compare the media industry to the niche game software industry. But here you'll find very similar actions. Anti-piracy is the norm. Expensive packaged software (or downloadable paid software) and expensive CDs/DVDs are analogous. Even the antagonistic attitude between the customers and the producers is similar. It's just inherent in any industry that needs to protect its IP because that is precisely what it is selling.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997810)

Actually, movie and music companies make a lot of money selling usage rights, to each other and to advertisers. Whenever you hear a well known song in a movie, the studio that produced the movie had to pay some music company for the rights to use the song like that. Likewise with commercials, or MacDonald's using movie characters for kids meal toys, and so forth. "Consumables" are not the be-all and end-all of music and movies.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997828)

"You can't really equate software and music/movies. Music and Movies are consumable products. You get it, you consume it. Maybe you watch it or listen to it more than once, but it's the rare consumer that uses the media as the means to an end"

That's always been the trouble with `software', it don't ever wear out. The producers of the software would like if it was a consumable product like movies, which is why they would like to move us to software-as-a-service, in the Cloud.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (3, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997942)

You don't install Linux just to have Linux.

Speak for yourself. I install Linux so I can say "I have Linux at home." with an air of superiority over the Windows people and an air of non-conformity and superiority over the Apple people. It's kind of like wearing Che Guevara t-shirts only for technically inclined folks. I may do that: get some Che Guevara T-shirts, Birkenstocks, grungy shorts, and pump my fist in the air and yell "I"M STICKING IT TO THE MAN!" every time I boot up Linux. Then I can feel all good about myself.

Yep.

I have a really pathetic little life.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997966)

"You can't really equate software and music/movies."

Thats where you're wrong, software do equate music, movies and photos etc. When you buy software, you get a bunch of bits with no promise that it will do anything at all. The only thing it has to do is perform roughly as stated in the brochures and its advertising laws that stands between you and a pile of worthless ones and zeroes, not copyright.

A new form of copyright with mandatory guaranties from the manufacturers would differentiate software from media but today, its exactly the same.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997990)

Also, in the case of "free" software, don't they mean that the source code is free, yet the full, compiled product has to be paid for? That's also something that can't be done with music or movies. You can't give away movie sets, cameras or unmixed multi-track recordings for free.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998028)

That's also something that can't be done with music or movies. You can't give away movie sets, cameras or unmixed multi-track recordings for free.

That depends. Some of the Blender movies [blender.org] do it. You can't give away physical props so easily, since they're physical, but that's a fundamental difference with physical versus digital.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (1, Flamebait)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998022)

You can't really equate software and music/movies. Music and Movies are consumable products. You get it, you consume it. Maybe you watch it or listen to it more than once, but it's the rare consumer that uses the media as the means to an end.

Most people treat software the same way: they get it, they use it, they have no way to modify it (even without the legal barriers; the issue is that most people aren't programmers). Going the other way, there's a fair number of people who remix music and and make movies containing clips from other films.

Looks to me like the distinction you're drawing isn't really there and you're just being an ignorant snob.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (2, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998286)

Trust me, it takes skill to make music.

The RIAA is proof of that...in the sense that even cat /dev/urandom does better.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (3, Interesting)

jamienk (62492) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998062)

The conceptions of what we "do" with music and film have been limited by the sales and "IP" models. Remixing, adding/replacing tracks, mashups, even sampling, all come about as a consequence of ignoring the "consumption" model as you describe it. So does all "traditional" or "folk" music. There are places that film and music can go that we can't easily think of today. Try to come up with your own examples of what can be done. If you can't think of anything or if your ideas don't seem all that revolutionary or important, maybe you're not an artist.

false dichotomy (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998104)

the differences you cite aren't really differences. everything is a means to an end, including music and movies: pleasure. "You install it because you want to do something with it" applies to linux. it also applies to "iron man" and beyonce

put it this way: a hammer is not a screwdriver. but in terms of how they are acquired: bought in a store or ripped off from woodshop class, they are the same

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998108)

If you want to compare the industries, it makes sense to compare the media industry to the niche game software industry. But here you'll find very similar actions. Anti-piracy is the norm. Expensive packaged software (or downloadable paid software) and expensive CDs/DVDs are analogous. Even the antagonistic attitude between the customers and the producers is similar. It's just inherent in any industry that needs to protect its IP because that is precisely what it is selling.

Which "niche games" market is that? Presumably not the independent-yet-original-and-good games market like 2dBoy [2dboy.com] (World of Goo) and Stardock [stardock.com] (Sins of a Solar Empire) compete in, where they're happy to have no or minimal DRM because pirates could be customers and customers are customers and should be treated as such.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998728)

It's hard to say Stardock is in the games market because their "games" are so bad the best feature they have is the lack of DRM. Their "games" are basically just ads for the desktop malware products they sell.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (2, Informative)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998196)

The two industries start from different premises, so that's why software can be free whereas media cannot.

Your opinion is belied by the fact that there is plenty [wikimedia.org] of free [jamendo.com] media [archive.org] out there [creativecommons.org] .

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998344)

Software is typically a means to an end. You don't install Linux just to have Linux. You install it because you want to do something with it. Same with web browsers, office suites, and just about any other software. The exception would be games which are meant to be consumed similarly to movies and music.

I think your distinction is also why we see so much decent free software minus games and not so much of the others. It's a tool and refining it to make a better tool is desirable to most people. Games and such I want to consume, you go through a campaign or story or levels of difficulty but you don't go over and redo and refine many times over. It's no surprise to me that the most common open source games are FPS and strategy games where you play the same maps or procedurally generated ones over and over.

If you want to compare the industries, it makes sense to compare the media industry to the niche game software industry. But here you'll find very similar actions. Anti-piracy is the norm.

My impression would be quite opposite, that the mainstream game industry has far more and worse DRM than the niche games. Niche games tend to not have the time and money to waste on creative new DRMs, they might slap a standard copy protection on it but that's also it. More often than not they rely on the fact that they are niche to say "Please pay for this game, we don't have execs with multi-million dollar salaries we're just hoping the numbers work out so we can keep making games." and I'm sure it has some effect.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998420)

I meant the niche of game software, not niche game software. You're not the first one that I've inadvertently confused with the bad wording.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998386)

I agree, but I think that there are other significant differences that sink the comparison as well. Notably, open-source software is a collaborative effort but music fans do not, in general, have a reciprocal arrangement with the artists to create the music (except, perhaps, for some rhythmic clapping in live shows). Open-source requests that the community contribute whereas music is more of a one-way street. One could argue that musicians share ideas constantly and the arrangement parallels the divide between open-source developers and users, but I think that it's more pronounced with music.

Another, more practical and more relevant consideration, is that open-source developers usually develop as a hobby and have other jobs to pay the rent. Musicians shouldn't be relegated to being hobbyists. Arguably, most of the money for starting bands and even established bands comes through live performance, but I dislike the idea that recorded music sales are simply not an option for new bands.

The article suggests that, because copyright is unenforceable for recorded art in the digital age, the supply of that art is effectively infinite and hence the value is near zero. Perhaps enforcing scarcity of a resource through legislation is fundamentally flawed, but the result of a product that has zero value is undoubtedly that no one will produce that product. The act of copying may be free, but recording studios aren't. If artists are expected to make all their money off live shows, then they certainly won't be investing in high-quality recorded productions. Piracy certainly won't end music, but recording engineers might be looking for new work.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (2, Informative)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998632)

You missed the point of TFA. Even music and movies create new scarcities which can be monetized, even if the original work itself cannot be. Here is an article with a clip [techi.com] that explains it much better than I can.

Re:Fundamentally different things, though (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998884)

Yes, the things are different. But OSS counters the argument "You can't make a living by giving away stuff.". Yes you can, but it takes a clever businessman to manage it. No one claims anymore that OSS is something you can easily dismiss, but do you remember how it was 15 years ago ? Nowadays, people who give movies or song for free only encounter marginal successes. This doesn't mean the Google of online music won't appear.

If you sell sand $100/kg in the middle of the Sahara it is not a workable business model. Even if you have a mine employing 1000 people, protecting this business plan would be silly. Well, selling $30 DVDs that can't be read easily whereas it is free to download a rip that provides more functionalities is exactly the same situation.

LOL Glyn Moody... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997746)

Why should anyone care about the latest rambling of Glyn Moody? Does anyone actually take this tard seriously?

digital media has zero marginal costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997760)

"like free software, digital music has zero marginal costs. As basic economics teaches us, this means that the price of such goods will tend to zero. That's certainly happening in the world of computing, with Microsoft, for example, offering all kinds of cut-price deals on PCs (notably netbooks) in an attempt to discourage manufacturers from installing GNU/Linux. This knock-on benefit of free software is often overlooked, but is real and increasing as open source applications start to be deployed within companies"

"Instead of trying to stop digital goods being circulated freely, businesses need to find ways of making money around those free goods. For free software, that has meant selling things like authorised versions and services. The recorded music industry already successfully sells authorised versions in competition with free versions, so that approach is being adopted, even if not consciously. On the services side, the crucial thing to recognise is that services mostly sell scarcity - people's expertise and time - and that there are equivalents in the world of music"

Why Making Money from Free Software Matters [h-online.com]

Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

silverbax (452214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997778)

I'll never understand the cognitive dissonance that makes people say 'software should be free' but at the same time 'I should get paid to work on that free software for you'.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (3, Interesting)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997846)

I think a large part of the "cognitive dissonance" stems from the fact that you get no guaranties whatsoever that said software will work. I can only talk for myself but i have a very hard time persuading myself pony up for something that may or may not work and where the seller takes no responsibility of the goods.

The industry put themselves in this situation when they used copyrights to protect their goods (software is traded as photos, movies or books, not real products). The upside, no guaranties, is offset by the backside, nobody thinks your product is worth the money.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997946)

Which is why OS companies make money of support:

They give software for free with no guarantees.

But if you want to guarantee that it works and want someone who you can wake up and 3:00 who will fix bug, you buy support. Or you pay them to train your staff to be able to work with it on peak performance. Or you pay commision for new feature.

This is incredibly similar to post-torrent artisty: Artist is paid for "consulting" if there is medium shift, he is paid for live performances and of course, he is paid create new works on commision.

It is basically model of where you only pay for things that are near impossible to pirate it: Good lecture is not replaceable by torrented pdf, neither is dedicated support or live show.

Free stuff to hook you up, pay up if you want quality service. "No guarantee" is not what OS is about, it is what you get for free (just like any closed software that people pirate is without guarantees)

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998268)

Which is why OS companies make money of support: They give software for free with no guarantees.

That seems like a pretty shitty way to conduct business. It gives an incentive for creating crappy software that requires extra support. Shouldn't the ideal be to make great software that doesn't require much support?

Re:Cognitive dissonance (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998664)

Wrong. It creates an incentive for creating software that seemingly requires support, but doesn't require that support in reality. In other words, it creates an incentive to build software that is better than it looks.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998720)

Wrong. It creates an incentive for creating software that seemingly requires support, but doesn't require that support in reality. In other words, it creates an incentive to build software that is better than it looks.

So, it's based upon the deception of customers. Still doesn't sound appealing. As a customer, I'd rather know exactly what I'm getting, rather than being tricked into something. If the software doesn't need that much support, why should I have to pay for it?

Re:Cognitive dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998764)

Then someone come and make a better software that require less support(eg: less expensive) to take the market.

You though you was all wise and birllant, but you forget to account for competition. In the idea software world(free, open, pay for support) Microsoft is not a monopoly that has incentive to create shitty software.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998060)

More often than not, proprietary software licenses absolve the vendor from any guarantees in situations where the software likely to fail (or likely to fail with catastrophic results). Really, if you want a guarantee, you need to find a company that specializes in high reliability systems, and for most people, the cost of contracting with such a company is too great and not justified by their needs.

With a company like Red Hat, you pay for a sort of guarantee -- you get to call them and ask for help whenever you want, or if you pay enough, they'll leave someone at your place of business to manage the systems. The guarantee you get is that within 24 hours, they will fix a problem or give you some sort of workaround, which is not quite the same as the sort of guarantee you seem to want, but it is apparently good enough for a lot of companies (and it is not all that different from any other vendor).

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998586)

More often than not, proprietary software licenses absolve the vendor from any guarantees in situations where the software likely to fail (or likely to fail with catastrophic results).

Why do you limit this to just proprietary software? I've yet to see a single free software license that also doesn't have a disclaimer of warranty or fitness.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998794)

More often than not, proprietary software licenses absolve the vendor from any guarantees in situations where the software likely to fail (or likely to fail with catastrophic results).

Actually they usually have the same general disclaimers as free software, including the "fitness for general purpose disclaimer". The end result is that MS can ship buggy versions of windows, fix bugs for a while, then stop and force you to upgrade if you want the particular machine on the net. To be honest it's quite hard to pin down exactly what we are paying for with proprietary software...

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998348)

You've never read an EULA, have you?

The only guarantee you get is provided by product liability statutes.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998602)

I think a large part of the "cognitive dissonance" stems from the fact that you get no guaranties whatsoever that said software will work.

1. If I pay someone to modify an open source package for me, I can secure a guarantee from that person that it will do what I paid him to make it do. Legally, all that needs to happen is that there's a separate agreement above and beyond the requirements of the open source license that includes that guarantee. So, for instance, if the package was GPL, if someone modifies it for me, we can have an agreement that says that he's giving me the modifications with source code (as he's required to under the terms of the GPL), but also guarantees that it will do what I want it to. And this isn't a hypothetical: I've worked on projects that involved paying an outside contractor to do precisely that.

2. Proprietary software licenses universally disavow any and all warranties including the implied warranty of merchantability and warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. You have no guarantee whatsoever that Microsoft Windows will not set your computer on fire rather than be a functioning computer operating system.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997920)

There isn't any. The more accurate statement is 'software should be free' but if 'you want me to work on it consistently for larger periods of time you'll have to pay me.'

It's not hard for people to find a half hour here and there to work on a project, but it becomes really difficult to find hours every week to do so without being paid. There are exceptions, but not many, and certainly not enough to support the ecosystem.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (5, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997992)

I'll never understand the cognitive dissonance that makes people say 'software should be free' but at the same time 'I should get paid to work on that free software for you'.

The software is free, the developer's time is not.

You're free to use the software however you choose, but if you want the developer to spend his time working to your schedule, then you may have to make it worth his while.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998332)

The software is free, the developer's time is not.

But developers spent time developing the software. So, if their time is not free, then how did the software come to be free in the first place?

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998820)

So, if their time is not free, then how did the software come to be free in the first place?

Getting a program to version 0.01 or 0.09 might be worth a spare-time development effort. But without some other sort of motivation, the developer may not feel like taking it to 1.0.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (0, Troll)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998932)

Getting a program to version 0.01 or 0.09 might be worth a spare-time development effort. But without some other sort of motivation, the developer may not feel like taking it to 1.0.

So, basically the idea is that people who start worthwhile software projects and have new ideas don't deserve compensation, but the hangers-on who exploit those visions, do deserve to be paid? Sounds somewhat similar to the business model of those RIAA and MPAA middle-men.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Informative)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998922)

But developers spent time developing the software. So, if their time is not free, then how did the software come to be free in the first place?

If the developer does it because the developer wants to do it, it's a hobby. If he does it because you tell him to do it, it's a job. In the second case, he'll probably expect you to pay him. Bear in mind however that all you're buying his time and the right to direct his efforts.

The software became free because the initial developers chose to release their work under a free software licence. It remains free regardless of whether or not you choose to help fund further development.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997998)

The unfortunate reality of the English language is that "free" has two very different meanings. You are thinking of the "no cost" meaning, which is not what the Free Software Foundation is about -- the other meaning, "freedom," is what is more important. You should have freedoms with your software, particularly the freedom to use and modify that software, and also the freedom to study and share the software (how one can modify with studying is a mystery to me). Sharing is where people always get angry, since it means that people may be able to obtain the software at no cost -- but the benefits outweigh the potential losses here.

Personally, I choose to use the word "libre" to describe GPL (or similarly licensed) software, to help reduce the confusion. There is no confusing "libre" with some other term, and people who are unfamiliar with the word will generally ask for clarification (rather than assuming a specific meaning). Those who neglect to ask for clarification are generally the people who do not care about the issue at all; this is still better than someone who does not care about the issue and just assumes that I want to get my software at no cost.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998234)

It's not "I should get paid", it's more like "I give something to the community for free, but I don't want to starve while doing it". It's not like the developer gets paid for every copy of the software, neither does he become billgates-rich.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998414)

If you're saying "should", then sure, there's cognitive dissonance. But that's a straw man.

If you want me to work in your IT department to install and maintain software on your computers, that's a job, and you need to pay me for it. If you'd like me to design, program, and test POS or support software tailored specifically to your company, that's a job, and you need to pay me for it. You don't have to hire me (or anyone) to do those things. If you're a one man shop, and perfectly comfortable doing your installs yourself, no one "should" get paid-you've every right to do it yourself. On the other hand, if you're a large corporation, chances are someone's going to get hired to do installation, maintenance, and customization. They're no more being paid for the software installing and maintaining Linux then they are installing Windows-they're not getting a cut of the licensing on Windows either. They're being paid for their time.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998646)

Easy - software is duplicable into infinity. When I'm done on software, I'm done, and as many people as want it can use that software at no cost to me. I can (and usually do) also work on my projects when I darned well please. An hour or two put in before I turn in for bed, or with the advent of netbooks even while waiting for a friend to show up somewhere I can work on something for 10-15 minutes. IE, I can invest time that is inherently less valuable into it. It also helps that often times I'll (and I'm wagering many, many other developers) write software that I personally am interested in using myself too, so I have an incentive to write it regardless of compensation.

That said, support, custom coding, etc, are face time. You are paying for the EXCLUSIVE use of my time, and you often want it during peak business hours. That's not the same thing.

Doesn't apply to music and film (1)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997786)

I wish the post was true...but sadly it is not. Yes, linux is free but people will still spend money to get a "package deal" (i.e. a pre-installed system done by somebody who knows his or her stuff). Same thing with Google...anybody could write Google Docs, if anybody had years of training and a huge team of designers, etc. It's easier for people to just use Google Docs and "pay" by reading the advertising and giving Google access to their data. In the case of movies and music, though, there's very little parallel here. I don't want somebody's "package deal" of Star Trek...I want the opposite of that (i.e. a file that I can do whatever I want with). I'd be more likely to pay for the software that allows me to easily transform my digital copy of a movie to the format I want to watch it in than I would be to pay for the content of the movie. The "new scarcity" doesn't exist in this case. And until people can figure out a way to get people to pay for a movie that hasn't even been filmed yet (good luck with that), I think the MAFIAA is likely to continue its quest to stamp out all forms of entertainment that don't involve them gouging the crap out of customers.

Re:Doesn't apply to music and film (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997842)

Have you considered that movies *are* fairly priced? What if they wanted to sell a movie to you for $75 instead of $25? I remember when laserdiscs cost that much, so actually, I think prices overall have been dropping. Do you expect the actors and movie studios to do their job for free?? Everyone's time has a cost, or are you a monk?

Re:Doesn't apply to music and film (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998370)

It's worth whatever I feel like paying for it.

If that's not enough to cover costs, then maybe the invisible hand is telling them they're investing too much.

Re:Doesn't apply to music and film (1)

garynuman (1666499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998674)

laser disks failed because they were too expensive and impractical, also one must consider VHS, NOT laserdisk was the defacto standard back then. Laser disk was targeted at a niche market who bought into it knowing full well it was going to cost more... so comparing their price to dvd's/bd discs is irrelevant, cool strawman though.... and no one expects people to do their jobs for free, however consumers might be tired of the excesses of Hollywood. go to a damn wal mart and look how far the price of durable goods has been driven down by globalization.... now try to reconcile these genuinely cheap genuinely useful goods with a dvd that costs $25 dollars (the physical disk itself and packaging come in well under a dollar) because they paid tom cruise $50 million dollars to stand there and be short. it cant be done. see hulu and netflix for examples of old media doing new media right and dont try to justify a broken system.

Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (4, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997790)

RedHat sell FOSS services - pretty much all Linux and makes half their money from financial activities. RedHat is a FOSS vendor - I can't take that away from them.

Google is a search engine that uses FOSS for it's company - it makes its money from advertising and selling non FOSS software.As a matter of fact, Google is actually a shitty FOSS company - see Sketchup and Sketchup Pro [google.com] . Where's the source for those things? Hmmmm? And Sketchup Pro is pretty expensive, btw, and it's closed and proprietary program.

All the software written by Google, how much of it is really open? Honestly.

Re:Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998046)

Who ever said that Google was a FOSS vendor? They're primarily an advertising company, though yes they do a lot to encourage OSS development and some pretty cool technologies/ideas.

Re:Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998274)

Who ever said that Google was a FOSS vendor?

It was implied when they compared it to RedHat.

Re:Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998094)

TFS said free, not FOSS. It's all about making money. It has nothing to do with proprietary/open source. And Google makes plenty of free software, even if it all tends to be webapps.

Re:Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998620)

And Microsoft makes a ton of free software too. So basically you made the term "free software" meaningless.

Re:Google is not a FOSS sofware vendor! (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998734)

How so? If they don't charge for it, it's free software, whether Microsoft makes it or not. It's not FOSS - there's a reason people use that term, and it's to avoid the confusion the term "free" engenders.

This article was about how to make money, while giving software away. Google has done it through advertisement, and collecting personal data. Red Hat has done it through selling support. Microsoft has done it by using free software to ensure lock-in to non-free software (the "first hit's free, kid" business plan).

Just because they're Microsoft doesn't mean they can't make free software - hell, MS has released source code to some of their software too.

Authorship of software is different (5, Interesting)

patSPLAT (14441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997796)

Thus far engineers are the only ones to directly profit from open source businesses.

The single biggest mistake open source advocates make when envisioning a future is the assumption that successful engineering practices will be successful artist practices. You don't sample a Britney Spears song to make a longer, better Britney Spears song; you sample it for reference. Whereas when you patch emacs, you aren't referencing emacs, you are adding functionality.

Even if an artist subscribes to the free->fame startup model, eventually the steps to monetization involve controlling the distribution of copies. For example, first Danger Mouse released the Grey Album to great acclaim, then formed Gnarls Barkley and released music in traditional commercial channels.

While copyright is bad for engineers, it is a 300 year old legal framework designed to compensate artists. Discarding it for nothing is short sighted at best, and at worst exploitive of artists.

Re:Authorship of software is different (1)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998260)

For example, first Danger Mouse released the Grey Album to great acclaim, then formed Gnarls Barkley and released music in traditional commercial channels.

Thus becoming part of the 0.01%* of artists who actually benefit from copyright. Why should there be a law that protects only the interests of a tiny minority of artists, who are also the richest and therefore in the least need of protection?

Discarding it for nothing is short sighted at best, and at worst exploitive of artists.

Copyright is short-sighted at best and at worst exploitive of artists.

*Yeah, made up number. "Small percentage" is the concept I'm trying to get across here.

Re:Authorship of software is different (1)

patSPLAT (14441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998486)

The law exists to encourage the production of art. Making up numbers and inverting sentence structure is not a counter argument.

Re:Authorship of software is different (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998456)

Even if an artist subscribes to the free->fame startup model, eventually the steps to monetization involve controlling the distribution of copies.

Counterexample: The Grateful Dead. They not only allowed the distribution of copies, they actively encouraged it.

Is authorship of software really that different? (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998458)

You don't sample a Britney Spears song to make a longer, better Britney Spears song; you sample it for reference.

Is that so? I read about take-down notices of parodies, covers/enhancements every day here.

Equally, I can just download Emacs and enjoy it without patching or contributing anything.

Re:Authorship of software is different (2, Insightful)

orasio (188021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998892)

You started with the wrong foot.
"Open source advocates" are guys who think that open source is good from a technological standpoint.
They don't envision the future, they code. You don't want to extract an ideology from programmers talking about programming.

You should read some free software material. Free software _is_ about freedom, and about the balance between users and programmers. _Some_ of the ideas inherent to free software can be applied to the whole of society. The "balance" between the different actors is similar in software and in music.

Here's the thing. Software is easy to see, because free software is almost as old as proprietary software. Both had a similar start from a cultural standpoint. That's why it's easier to understand. On the other hand, we have had proprietary music all our lives, and almosta all business models are anchored to that. It's hard to see a world without copyrights in music. That doesn't make it a bad world, it just makes it unusual.

This is what _I_ think: 300 years ago, copyright arised as an bargain, an incentive for authors to publish. Publishing was hard and expensive, and required upfront investments. Right now, we don't need that. We would have the same amount of cultural production without copyright, so the public is getting nothing from copyright, and its costs are getting higher and higher.

I don't care if some music company wants to restrict distribution of songs they publish, let them do that, but I think it's nonsense that I have to pay for it. And it's nonsense that my internet connection is threatened by their whims. I think the only solution would be to go back to the bargain table, and get a better deal. With copyright, the public is losing a lot, and getting nothing in exchange.

(Of course, authors do have some inalienable rights that should be protected, like authorship, to prevent plagiarism and stuff, but a monopoly on distribution is not an inalienable right, it's just the result of a bargain)

Re:Authorship of software is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998924)

You don't sample a Britney Spears song to make a longer, better Britney Spears song; you sample it for reference.

  • Sugarhill Gang swiped Chic's "Good Times" groove for "Rapper's Delight" as the rhythmic engine for their tune, not as a cultural reference (or only incidentally). Listen to it, it makes the whole thing work.
  • Who the heck samples Britney Spears?

Google? (2, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997806)

And as companies like Red Hat and Google have grown in size and profitability, so have the credibility and clout of free software. ...

Erm, Red Hat and SuSE, or Red Hat and Canonical Inc, or even Red Hat and Geeknet Inc., yes. But Red Hat and Google of all things? Google does not provide or support or grow from providing Open Source software any more than e.g. Microsoft does. They run a close-source search engine, a closed-source mail hosting service and sell ads for a living.

Re:Google? (1)

mattbee (17533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997872)

...and what's more, very likely have masses of cutting-edge private patches to the Linux kernel for enabling their distributed computing infrastructure. Of course they give back in lots ways (money and less valuable code), but only because they have taken such a great deal to start with.

Re:Google? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997904)

Imagine for a second Google had built their infrastructure on Windows or Unix. How would the cost of operations scale? Investments in deploying an extra 5000 servers with licenses? No go?

Open source was what made Google possible. The only real alternative had been them coding their own ecosystem from scratch.

Google proves open source, if used right, can be very beneficial to a company on the intertubes. Same goes for most other large services. Cost prohibits anything else being used than open source because closed source only scales one way, costs rise with the size of the deployment.

Re:Google? (2, Informative)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997908)

They also use and support free software. Google has made a ton of money *from* free software. They have shown it is possible to grow from a garage operation to one of the most influential company on the planet using Linux. They have shown free software can be relied on to deliver stuff people want and that you don't necessarily have to hand out bushels of money to Sun, HP, Microsoft, Apple et al to make money in the IT industry.

Lesson learned (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997996)

Google has made a ton of money *from* free software.

That's right FOSS developers, all the work you released for free was used to make billions for a couple of guys. And they of course took all that money they made off of the back of the FOSS community and ....kept it.

And they're paying back to the FOSS community by adding some minor code and ....well really nothing.

So, the lesson I get from Google is exploit the free software and the free labor of others, make a billion, and keep it all to myself.

If FOSS Developers want money, MARKET IT! (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998212)

That's the free software developer's fault. They developed and released free software with the intention of it being free, not with the stipulation that if it is ever worth something that they should get a cut.

If those free software developers wanted to go through the process of patenting/copyrighting the software, investing millions in PUBLICIZING IT LIKE GOOGLE/ETC. do with it, and generally provide the support of a large corporation, then maybe they would get a cut of the software.

Software isn't just the code, it's the marketing and more importantly the support from the company AFTER SALE. Free software only works because there is no financial investment from the creators after the point of sale. They get the ability to put it on their resume and hope to get recognized so they can move on up. That's the difference between an IT person and a Business person. Don't blame the business person for taking the IT person's FREE SOFTWARE and providing the billion dollar industry of SUPPORT and MARKETING to back it up.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998308)

all the work you released for free was used to make billions for a couple of guys

Releasing it for free (no cost) is the choice of the developer. No-one is FORCED to release open source software, for free or otherwise. Under the terms of the GPL, IF I take a piece of GPL software and decide to release it further (generally after modifying it, but not necessarily!), then I must do so under the same terms as the original (e.g. the GPL). Nowhere does it say I have to release it further, and nowhere does it say I can't charge for it.

- I can take GPL software, modify it, and use it myself without ever giving it or my changes to anyone else. I can't see any reason right now why I might do such a thing, but I can if I want.
- I can take GPL software, modify it and sell the results (my CUSTOMERS may then give it out freely if they wish, so this would probably be a bad business model without some other offering such as support or a fancy printed manual, but I COULD do so...)
- I could even do the above WITHOUT modifying it should I desire to.

Other licences are even more permissive, not containing the "must be under the same licence" clause, and these are the ones that tend to cause some big companies to take a lot of code and never share it further. That said though, some still do, and we thank them for it.

The fact that Google has made billions does not mean they made billions "off the free labor of others". They certainly made money using a shared human resource (free software), but every piece of GPL software they've modified and want to distribute further enriches the rest of us "off their backs".

Re:Google? (2, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998008)

Why do people see free, and read open source? Google has provided heaps of free software - google maps, office, calendar, etc. Just because they're webapps and proprietary does not exclude them from the free as in beer moniker. And the article is obviously about the beer-free, not the speech-free - all it talks about is money, and the making thereof. Leave the OS/Proprietary baggage at the door.

Re:Google? (1)

abdulwahid (214915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998566)

I think they confused it here because the top line here mentions Stallman and Emacs where 'free' means freedom.

Re:Google? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998644)

Yeah, but it mentions him in the context of selling something for $150.

Re:Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998076)

Android? ChromeOS? Chrome? ...

that was enough for me to live on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997858)

"I was getting some eight to ten orders a month and that was enough for me to live on."

not everyone likes living in a 360 sq ft apartment in a s#1t neighbourhood

-paul

Re:that was enough for me to live on (1)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997878)

so true

-paul

Motivations for paying for free in the real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997888)

I found that people have a hard time understanding why they should pay/support something that is free until they have issues impacting production. Once they do they are all for contributing to a project or shelling out for support.

I am not sure how that really pans out in a world of music or films.

What are they going to get in return for supporting musicians/film artists in a world where the content to be consumed is free? The concert experience is worth paying for and maybe a t-shirt or so but is that a model to support large industries? And then is the question of maybe large industries are not needed for music (with the technology of today maybe all we need are indies) but films? With home theater setups and free content models what is the driver to get a person into a seat at a mega-plex?

Ridiculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31997912)

It's ridiculous to assert that the primary creators of value in the sofware business -- those who actually write the software -- should do so for free, while the hangers-on who sell it, support it, and package it should get paid.

It's grossly inefficient to insist that a programmer who wants to make money has to do it by doing something else on the side. Doesn't he really create the most value by spending his time writing software?

And it's just plain stupid to think you can call for free software without implying both of these things.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998352)

It's ridiculous to assert that the primary creators of value in the sofware business -- those who actually write the software -- should do so for free, while the hangers-on who sell it, support it, and package it should get paid.

Yes, that is a ridiculous assertion, which is why noone asserts it... If my employer wants to package, sell and support my software, they can damn well pay me for it. Doesn't have the slightly bit to do with whether it's free software or not though.

Keep Preaching to the Choir (1)

Paeva (1176857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31997938)

I think Slashdot needs more articles about how the RIAA could still stay in business but really please the tech geek crowd by loosening up a bit. Sure, they won't make nearly as much as they're making right now, but I'm sure they'd like to get invited to some of our l33t geek parties, right?

Re:Keep Preaching to the Choir (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998130)

I can't remember the last time I paid any RIAA company for music. Supply is up, so relative demand is down; that means it's time to change if they want to stay in business. "I will bend like a reed in the wind."

Re:Keep Preaching to the Choir (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998888)

I assume you were in a grocery store in the past month. Some of the money likely went toward licensing a background music stream to play over the speaker system.

data != tangable objects (1)

jisou (1483699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998072)

in my opinion the main reason why there is such an issue is because the media industry is basically trying to sell abstract ideas. take the example of a video game. is the code itself copyrighted or just the end result? if its the code then how much change needs to be made for you to get around those pesky copyright laws.of coarse the industry is going to want to tell you to sell it. its what they do. they'd market air if they had the opportunity. personally i think free and open source software is going to not only turn our current economy on its head, but also possibly improve it. the thing is the more we try to bottle are thoughts and sell them the more we hinder the growth of humanity. i for one think that we would be way more advanced if it wasn't for i need to sell information. many great ideas have been cut short because it wasn't "profitable" enough. i really hope that the digital age will help change the perception of compensation. just to be clear I'm not advising that we stop right now and burn all of our money. as Russia proved that idealistic society where everyone is equal is impossible as long as human greed still exists. i just hope that with the digital age instead of shallow pieces of paper we barter information with each other.

Business model: Didn't Stallman say... (1)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998106)

... that he was changing for the making of the tapes, as opposed to the software himself. I recall reading this on his site maybe ten years ago. This seemed weird to me, to charge for the menial task rather than the inspired one, and of course the costs of software distribution have now all but evaporated. Besides, what if the coder just can't be bothered with that stuff? It's not what they are valued for perhaps even as a genius (who doesn't eat much).

See: http://beust.com/stallman.html [beust.com] ("RMS was beginning to be successful with Emacs by that time, shipping more and more tapes. These tapes were sold $150 but, he insisted on that point, it was only the price of s&h. The software on it was both free from a pecuniary point of view, but more importantly, free of any intellectual rights. Fearing that these terms might change, RMS felt that he had to quit the MIT if he wanted to be sure that his subsequent works would belong to him completely. The Free Software Foundation was created and took over the distribution of tapes. RMS could now focus on his quest.")

So ... transient idealism?

It is interesting to now read the 1993 Wired view of Stallman's work: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1.01/stallman.html [wired.com]

I respect the guy as much as anyone; amanzing contributions (I hadn't heard the EMACS angle, my ignorance). But his business model ... well, I'd still like to know more. The voluntary payment model seemed predominant now, and frankly that's a tax on the nice, people who feel a moral obligation and not necessarily the people profiting most ... and likely ignoring GNU obligations as well.

Somebody swallowed the Techdirt gobbledygook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31998122)

For example, like free software, digital music has zero marginal costs. As basic economics teaches us, this means that the price of such goods will tend to zero.

No, it doesn't. Economics represents market dynamics using both a supply AND a demand curve, in fact many supply vs. demand charts for a given industry because of market segmentation (Armani vs. Calvin Klein vs. Kohl's brand suits) and unique products (such as movies and music albums and tracks). For example, diamonds are very expensive, even though it might not cost much for DeBeers to pull them out of the earth, because of the steady demand for them. Just slinging around some academic buzzwords does not imply a mastery, or even grasp of the basic material.

FLOSS, movies, and Godwin's law. (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998258)

As a discussion comparing Free Software and the movie industry grows longer, the probability of someone introducing a Free Porn movement where Richard Stallman is an actor approaches one. When this happens, the thread should immediately be killed.

foss is the future business model of all media (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998402)

and it isn't really that revolutionary: its the same business model as broadcast television or radio

content is free, and money is made via ancillary revenue streams. you give your music or movies away for free on the internet and you make cash from the people who show up at concert gigs (because they like your music: your mp3 files are merely advertising) or in the cinema house (the internet, like television and the vcr before it, despite all the panic, is not going to kill the cinema house)

furthermore, this "radical" future is not the death of capitalism, it is the ultimate expression of capitalism: the marketplace, the internet, is a great equalizer. quality and quality alone becomes the dominant determinant about who triumphs and who has to keep their day job. the only people who suffer are the old media companies from the previous, now dead, era of vinyl and cellulose: they aren't needed anymore

and don't believe their lies: when such dying distributors whine about capitalism, they actually are talking about corporatism. corporatism is a greater enemy of capitalism than communism or socialism ever can be, and this is also historically true: oligopolies and monopolies using their size and influence over legislators to warp and destroy the free market to their advantage. so if you are interested in a free market, a marketplace of competing equals, you are interested in strong government regulations which curtail the influence of the dominant players

but this simple truth is unfortunately contrary to so much libertarian and tea party rhetoric

on the topic of foss, and also on many other topical issues, too many people confuse the idea of capitalism and corporatism

too many people unfortunately buy the self-serving rhetoric and the propaganda and the alligator tears of the 800 pound gorillas in the room who say they are on the side of capitalism, but who are not interested in true capitalism at all, they are in corporatism. they are interested in destroying the free market to their advantage by doing away with regulations or flat out rewriting the regulations to grandfather themselves into dominant positions in the marketplace

are you a libertarian? are you a free market fundamentalist? are you a tea party member? then recognize this: your greatest enemy is not the government, it is large corporations. they will destroy the free market UNLESS the government is strong enough to check their power so the little guys can compete equally. the government is the enemy ONLY to the extent that large corporations have corrupted it. so fight to CHANGE the government, not destroy it, for that is far worse in the name of YOUR ideals. IN THE NAME OF THE FREE MARKET, you want and need a strong regulatory government. this really is 100% the truth. a truly free market functions only amongst equals. and since in a marketplace no one stays equal very long, you must have strong regulations to make sure the larger players don't take advantage of the smaller players. there's simply no way around that

so in the name of true capitalism, defy the mpaa and riaa. monopolies and oligopolies are the greatest threat to capitalism, ever

Fascinating (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998432)

(Subject is tying in to the weekend's Leonard Nimoy theme.)

What a fantastic approach! I haven't thought it through, as I hadn't seen things this way before, but the approach of bringing artists back to the audience really is fascinating. Compare Bruce Springsteen's relationship with his audience in 1980 to Brittney Spears' 20 years later. I know which I want.

Record companies, are you listening?

I actually tried to read to RTFA (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998488)

In general I won't mind paying a buck or two if it means the page will load.

Article misses the point (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998560)

I read the article hoping that it would provide some interesting ideas about how independent musicians can better adapt their business to the challenges of the internet (I record for a number of small independents), but was rather disappointed.

TFA basically makes two suggestions:

1: Make all your money from live shows instead.
This argument has been made many times before on many different websites, but fails to account for anyone who doesn't fit easily into the typical 'rock band' style setup. What about composers? Dance music producers? Orchestras? People who for whatever reason can't gig regularly? It also assumes that you'll easily get gigs in the first place - something that is much more difficult without having music already released, so you're back to square one.

2. Get people to payfor your album in advance, then tailor it to their needs and maybe get them involved/credit them if they donate enough
I shouldn't need to point out why this will only work in the tiniest number of cases. Realistically, who's going to pay for music that hasn't been made yet, when so many people don't even want to pay for music that has? How many people here would 'fund' an album that might turn out to be shit? The evidence supplied by the article for this is also irrelevant for the vast majority of musicians who are trying to make a name for themselves.

Most musicians - if they're in it for the right reasons - should tell you that they're not in it for the money. This is the right attitude to have, but try telling anyone who enjoys their job that they shouldn't get paid for it and see how far you get. Musicians need better solutions if than this if they're going to survive the huge drop in profits from recorded music that is affecting most (not all) people in the industry, and has been for years now.

Re:Article misses the point (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998832)

The best solution for the digital age would be to make sure that people with a passion for arts could pursue their passion: Socialism.

Everyone should be given basic income, so that anyone caring more about expressing themselves creatively than about making more money by taking a boring job, could do so.

Fear (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31998818)

Yes, Open Source and free software do cross more lines than many people suspect. They also cross lines that the wrong people suspect. Oddly the same issue exists with Christianity in some areas. Communism vs. capitalism is a dangerous and non productive battle. Many powerful people do not separate communism from socialism in their thoughts. If Open Source is perceived as socialist then there is actually a certain danger attached. In South America there has been an ongoing slaughter of religious leaders as the powerful perceive Christianity as a danger to their wealth. Perhaps many people who support Open Source consider it more of a social justice action than having anything to do with socialism. But at the end of the day you can bet your last penny that governments take an intense and covert interest in Open Source to continuously assess whether or not it is a threat. And you can bet that big companies such as Microsoft push governments to restrict Open Source.
            For my two cents I would like to see computing move further beyond the constraints of businesses and governments. I do not want every aspect of my existence welded to the almighty dollar or the rule of law.

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