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There are two arguments usually raised against FreeSoftware and in favour of IntellectualProperty. Both of which I've tended to dismiss.

  • Programmers need to get paid

The response to the first is that there are business models which pay programmers for writing free software. And even if the same size of software industry isn't sustained, the increased productivity of coders not re-inventing the wheel may mean that the industry as a whole is as productive as ever. Those business models are of course, ServiceStrategy models.

The response to the second is to point to the existence of real, innovative FreeSoftware.

Now, although I think that these are adequate responses to the arguments as normally posed, I think there might be a serious question if you combine the two objections. Can programmers get paid for producing real innovation?

Well, in a sense, of course they can. If they can find a client who wants them to build bespoke, innovative software. But let's phrase things a slightly different way. Intellectual property allows ideas to be treated as a kind of capital. And a person with no other sort of capital except ideas can invest in developing those ideas further. But if ideas aren't allowed to be a kind of capital, then only the other sort of capital, money, can be invested to develop ideas further. The result, which is painfully familiar to those who work writing software as a service, is that only clients with money have the option of trying out new ideas. Programmers with great ideas but no capital, can't just sit down and develop in the hope of getting paid later.

In this sense, ideas aren't sufficient to exert power in the market (which may be equivalent to exerting power in the world? OnPower)

IdeasAreCheap (and cheaper still w/out intellectual-property) In fact is this a really important question in the ClassWarBetweenProductsAndServices. One might think that a ProductStrategy (based on IntellectualProperty) is the way to reward ideas, wheras a ServiceStrategy where ideas lose their leverage is going to leave a vacuum which can only be filled by TheAttentionEconomy or "network power" : in other words NetoCracy. (See also PaulGrahamOnTheInternetBubble on options)

** Counter : maybe the software market is just more mature (implies less innovative) than in the 70s ... is proprietory more innovative now than then?

** Does he almost end up similar to HerbSimon's argument for hierarchy (TempusAndChronos)

** Says science shouldn't go the same way ... thinks the granularity and discipline is necessary (See also AcademiaVsNewMedia, OnGranularity)

See also :