> I was wondering if you could clarify/expand
Sure! Paul was making the comparison between distributing software for
free, and leaving your front door open, inviting people to come in
and take your stuff. The comparison doesn't really work because if I
create a piece of software, I can burn it on to CDs any number of
times for a few pence each, or even more cheaply, put it on a web
server. The people I give the software to can pass it on further,
until between us we've created millions of copies at negligible cost.
Unfortunately, what's true for software binaries is not true for the
atoms in physical property. I can't take my guitar and make thousands
or millions of perfect copies of it using my computer. In fact, each
copy I make could cost at least as much or more than the first one,
assuming I actually had the skills required to copy a guitar. So
while I'm happy to distribute free software, I wouldn't let just
anyone borrow my guitar - and there's nothing illogical about that.
A problem is created when proprietary software companies try to have
it both ways. On the one hand, they want to be able to use CD-ROM and
internet technologies to mass-produce software at a very high profit
margin. On the other hand, they pretend to be upset when other people
use exactly the same technologies to copy the software without paying
We could draw an analogy with music itself, and say that the real
problem is how to make sure that creativity in the development of
software is rewarded.