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Re: Discouraging contributors (Was: g++.old-deja/g++.other/anon7.C)

On Monday 28 July 2003 05:58, Daniel Berlin wrote:

> > I know about the need to hold copyright to enforce the GPL, but
> > there are so many free-software projects out there that have been
> > prospering without inflicting legal papers to anybody.
> Which would require a lot of legal hoopla to sue someone if necessary,
> and depending on various laws on event occurrences (IE someone dies,
> etc, and the person who now owns the copyright in that piece of
> infringed code doesn't give a shit about ), might not be possible.
> Only the owners of exclusive rights can sue (and if the various
> exclusive rights were divided among various people, each person can
> only sue for infringement based on the right they own).

I've read about these legal issues on the FSF site, but it's not the
point I was trying to make.

Not loosing or upsetting lots of contributors is much more
important than being able to eventually sue someone in the unlikely
event that it becomes necessary in a distant future.

Most companies know how it works in practice and prefer to take the
risk of not being paid by a few customers instead of forcing all of
them to sign contracts ahead of purchasing.

It's especially true for insurances, subscriptions, e-commerce,
ISPs... They try to make it absolutely easy to become a customer
to order or subscribe by phone or e-mail (and very hard to quit,
sometimes ;-).

In the case of free-software development, projects don't primarily
compete for customers. The limited resource is developers: to be
successful, a project must attract developers instead of letting
them go elsewhere.

Imagine there were two competing compilers: GCC and an imaginary ZCC.
GCC requires an extremely annoying procedure to become a developer,
while ZCC does it best for getting newbies involved.

In a few years, ZCC receives a lot more contributions and
outperforms GCC. Then everybody looses interest in GCC and
switch to ZCC, leaving GCC in the dust.

What's the point in being absolutely sure you can sue someone
when you have no longer a product worth defending?

I'm sure Linus would have better arguments than me in explaining
how much success you get by making it easy for people to get
involved in a project.

  // Bernardo Innocenti - Develer S.r.l., R&D dept.

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