Freeware, Devil's Advocate

elliot smith (smithe@minot.com)
Sun, 12 May 1996 02:18:43 -0500


>Unix has a tradition of being a 'freeware' environment rather than a
>commercial one.

Linux maybe, but Unix as I undestand it costs tens of thousands of dollars
just to license a version that will allow 30 people logged in at the same
time. Unix ain't free, it's owned by IBM or the phone company! All that
Unix freeware just helps to enhance the position of the owners of Unix I
guess...

Jay, White Pine receives benifit from your setting up a reflector, but so
does everyone else. They could pay you, it could be free, or you could pay
them. It's how free market works. It would appear that the supply/demand
equation is in their favor. It would be nice if the capitalism were
tempered more often by fore thinking persons such as yourself, but I just
don't think the majority of users are concerned about, or have a clue about
the commercialism of the Internet. You and I however get uneasy when I
think about White Pine potentially dominating the Cu-see-me world.
Obviously it would be in everyone's better interest for Cornell to continue
the development of Cu-see-me, since I am guessing that Cornell isn't a
for-profit company. I wonder how it is that a commercial company like
White Pine got ahold of the source code. I guess they are paying Cornell
for the privelege? When we wake up one day and the only decent video
conferencing software costs $60 then we will wish that we'd have payed
Cornell to develop the software instead of paying White Pine but by then it
will be too late. Sure by that time there may be competition and maybe we
can choose from among a few different packages, but there's a lot of
overhead involved in this far-from-perfect capitalist system. Overhead
like marketing, and you all know what marketing is - it's TV commercials,
it's where competition is based on whose product has the most sex appeal,
it's the elimination of inefficient competition based on the actual
features and functionality of a product. And it costs billions of dollars.
And you pay for it. So again, if anyone would like to join my CC list
about starting a non-profit software company feel free to e-mail me.

If it's okay to steal from the phone company but not okay to steal from
White Pine, it's simply because White Pine doesn't piss everyone off like
the phone companys do. Users sometimes feel an allegiance to software
companies (heck there is even an aligence to Micrisoft and Bill "666" Gates
so go figure) As far as software companies go, sure White Pine is out to
make money but they're by no means the worst of them, in fact my gut tells
me they may well be the best of them. Besides, they are making
Cu-see-Me-type software which helps us to skirt the phone company. The
enemy of mine enemy...

-Elliot