Stefan's headers [was:Names and identifiers]
Chris Angelico <rosuav at gmail.com>:
> It's easy to look back NOW and say "even if software had no copyright,
> this could still exist". It's not so easy to see that such things
> would have come about. [...] I doubt very much that anyone other than
> hobbyists would write software that they're unable to sell.
A lot of software is custom-written to the specific needs of one
customer. That software is extremely expensive but would get written
regardless because the work must be done and couldn't be directly
exploited by competitors.
Now, as far as off-the-shelf products go (say computer games), the price
can be low because the identical product is sold to more than one
customer, sometimes even millions of customers.
What would happen to software products that didn't have copyright
protections? Nothing would prevent a competitor from starting to sell
your product as theirs.
This question must be asked in business in general. Could someone build
another Mexican Restaurant? Could someone build a similar auction web
site? Could someone go after your customers? And often the answer is,
yes they could so it's not worth the investment.
In this situation, will someone do the work or will it not get done? In
some cases, it would not get done. I still don't think the existence of
copyright laws is the proper burden to put on the society. Instead, the
government should fund such needs as it already does for necessary
things that don't have a market.
The government won't see an incentive to build a computer game so some
lucrative markets would disappear with the copyright gone. However, you
will see lots of creative community efforts to build not only games but
business utilities to address real needs. For example, a doctor in my
hometown built an appointment web app that was easier to use than the
expensive, professional alternative. When there's no copyright
protection, development communities can arise around such tools and the
germs can become high-quality applications over time.
> I'm also not sure that the MIT and BSD licenses would still be viable.
> Without copyright, they have no teeth, which would mean that their
> license terms of "don't sue me if it doesn't work" wouldn't apply.
I think the MIT and BSD licenses are just silly variants of the Public
Domain. The no-warranty clauses might not be enforceable anyway. Their
main point is the requirement for attribution.