Re: Obsolesence of Intellectual Property

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 05:36:37 MDT

Max Moller Rasmussen wrote:

> Linux is very nice but it is a tool somebody has made so they don't have to
> pay for the tools from other. Free hammers would also be nice for the
> carpentry business but would destroy the hammer business. So you can turn it
> around and say that if people want free music they should make it themself.
> Just like the Linux crowd supposedly does.

Here is the difference, about the software/hammer analogy. Making two copies of
a software is a marginal action. Making two copies of a hammer requires twice
the quantities the comprise the hammer. Also, making a hammer requires forging,
casting, or machining the hammer head and possibly the handle, or carving the

So, both software and hammer have start-up costs, the software's fixed costs
being the programming time and code and test platforms which are mostly reused
or reusable, while the hammer has the fixed costs of the machines and tools to
make the hammer.

After the fixed costs, reproducing software is basically a costless operation.

I see those as obvious statements.

Linux or the other free UNIXs were not free, they are made from thousands upon
thousands of programmer hours and precursor code, they were just freely given.

There is a concept of sum societal utility. Linux, free, has contributed to the
sum societal utility many times over its investment given by volunteer
programmers and supporters, some might say. Some statistics have it running
half the Internet.

Copyright laws are in place for a reason, and most of them are good laws. Some
patent laws, in my opinion, are cumbersome and infringe upon the growth of sum
societal utility, and any patent should expire in twelve years.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:

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