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« 'On the Media" to be Podcast | Main | Tsunami and Citizen Journalism's First Draft »

January 06, 2005


Simon Willison

Thanks for that. I too found that part of the interview outrageous, but I hadn't managed to put words to my feelings.

Dee Rambeau

Thanks for being so eloquent while being so nasty and truthful. I love it. Best of luck with the new blog...I'll be keeping an eye on it.


Thomas Jefferson, communist.


Bill Gates, convicted, illegal, monopolist, would of course want us to believe that copyright reform is the act of communists. Of course, all a copyright was intended to be was a limited monopoly.

Joe I.

Funny thing is, the shot at open source software that Bill Gates uses is absolutly hysterical. I switched my consulting firm to Linux servers and was able to fire my fulltime IT guy, hire a Linux service provider for 20% the cost on an on-call basis. Saving licensing fees for Windows and the service contracts alone put over $500,000 back into the owners pockets, (me and a silent partner). This is to me a very capitalist situation. Just because that money isn't going to Microsoft doesn't mean there isn't a huge amount of money to be made by saving money!


Microsoft's pitch is that the costs of running a computerized operation are so high that a few dollars extra for software is a trivial expense. I can't think of any other field where you could get away with this.

John Roberts

Dan, next time you link to CNET, I'd encourage you to send a TrackBack ping... they are supported ( for details).

Cheers, and good luck on the new venture.

John Roberts
CNET product development


Surely everyone is aware by now that Gates is autistic. To be more precise, High Functioning Autistic, a.k.a. Aspergers. If this is not out in the open, it needs to be, for it is not a matter of shame, and certainly, a little truth about World’s Richest Man would serve us all.

Moreoever, most of the thinking of a Ballmer or Gates arises in pure and hard-wired selfism that may have evil results, alright, but it remains open to debate whether the thinking itself is evil - or good. It simply is, just Bill and Ballmer, pursuing their Projects with no thought given to others, to repercussions - because that's what Aspergers is.

As is a rather, er, flexible attitude toward waht we might call Obvious Fact. Again, the point is to promote one's project. And if said project is Internet Explorer, heaven help us? Well, that pretty much says it all.

Ewan Grantham

Giving the devil his due, and goodness knows when it comes to Gates I'm having to bite rather hard on the ol tongue, it's possible that he meant communist but not in the Soviet style communism we all think of.

As one of my professors pointed out, the purest form of Communism you would find in practice is the Israeli Kibbutz. Which is characterized by a community working together toward common goals even at the expense of what the individual members might sometimes want.

As such, could Gates have been trying to find a reasonable metaphor rather than trying to smear a movement? If you had to compare Open Source development to a political movement, which one would you use?

OK, that hurt my head. I'm going to go lie down now...


Gates is a Communist. Gates is a Fascist. What's the difference? Who cares. Gates is a Control Freak. He can't control Creative Commons, ergo he hates it & attacks it. Gates is a Communist. Gates is a Fascist. What's the difference? Who cares. Gates is a Control Freak. (repeat)

Kirk House

There is an old tounge in cheek argument that the kid that bashes car windows while his neighbors sleep is a good thing for the economy. He creates business for the window repair people, jobs are created, GDP goes up, everybody wins? Obviously that's not the case but that appears to be the logic Gates is using. In fact, he's been breaking Windows for nearly two decades.


Check out this post by robert scoble on Microsoft's own channel 9 same topic..
(gets there..)

Clancy Hughes

If our government gives us manipulated information, if the media captures information to dispense it only with advertising, if the industrial age monopolies alter reality through lobbying and if the Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry suppresses art culture and information through over-extended copyright, then it looks like we are screwed.


Dan, you’re pandering to the Valley slackers, where is the journalism in this post?

I’m using Firefox now, but I like IE better.

Bush and his buddies are the worst bullies on the block.

People are free to make their own music and movies and distribute them on the Web, but if you want Brittany Spears you will have to pay all the people who made her desirable image.

Len Bullard

If you want to have a laugh, a good friend of mine, Dave Blalock, suggests you get the DVD of the Marx Brothers "A Day At the Races" and select the scene, Toosie Fruitsie. Compare Chico's strategy to the business models of some companies.

A lot of interests are playing Tootsie Fruitsie these days, and once it is played on you, as it is on Groucho, the tendancy is to take charge of the cart and do it too.


"They believe in a different kind of incentive, just not the mercenary one that motivates Bill Gates"

I don't understand what this different kind of incentive is. The whole point of the copyright and patent systems is to give people a legally protected financial incentive.

The comparison that Bill Gates makes of open source with communism is obvious, communists also thought that you could replace the purely financial incentive with something else (love for the state, the people, whatever). As they discovered, this doesn't really work over the long term. At the end of the day people are selfish and do things in their own interest.

As a software engineer, my time and the code I produce are the things that give me value. They're my way of earning a living. If I give that out freely, then, yes, maybe the world becomes a slightly better place, but someone else can use my work without recognizing my investment/contribution to it. As the 70 years in Russia showed, that's exactly what happends.


It's kind of an old theme when you think about it, Dan. It's the brilliant young man who takes on the "we've always done it this way" crowd, works hard and makes good, and then one day has to look around and realize that, in order to stay on top, he has now become one of the controlling dinosaurs he once thought to rise above. And all the while, the next whiz kids are plotting to do to him what he did to the previous bunch.

Dan Gillmor

Leo, there are many other incentives than financial ones. People volunteer their services all the time, not looking for payment (ever heard of the barn-raising or a volunteer fire department in a small town, for example?). People create art all the time without regard to payment. What's the business model for community theater? It's to enrich a community's cultural life, and to give amateur actors a way to go on stage and fulfill something in their own lives.

The open-source software folks are similarly committed to producing something valuable without direct payment to themselves. Some are making a living off it by providing ancillary services. Others do it because they believe in the principle.

To follow the logic of people like Bill Gates, we should ban voluntarism because, after all, there are companies that would sell us the services. It's an absurd notion.

What's more, Bill Gates knows that markets fail. That why he's putting so much money into his philanthropy to help improve public health, especially in the developing world where markets have not worked. I greatly admire his commitment in that area.


What's interesting about your updates/response to Leo is that Bill Gates' mother Mary Gates was a wonderful volunteer [1][2] and she urged others to do likewise, both in her own family and at MSFT[3].

Taking your comments about volunteerism -- the fire department and community theater are great examples -- along with Gates' own comments about "the new communists" and the recent grunt from the Ayn Rand Institute about the evils of altruism manifested in government dollars going to tsunami relief, what a strange place we've come to. When one's motives for giving something away -- be it money or the sweat of your brow -- are questioned, we're in a mess.





for musicians who don't want to volunteer, rather make money (mind you 90% of musicians who try not to make commercial music are actually financially incentive) I think Bill Gates would be the saviour. I wish we could realize that digital rights management system can only do good for musicians.

Ipod's coolness seem to have brought a major delusion to everyone.

all others who share their music for free are musicians with a daily job.

Brad Williams

"To follow the logic of people like Bill Gates, we should ban voluntarism"

There's nothing about the defense of property rights that remotely suggests banning voluntary software projects. That anachronistic "capitalism = slavery" Marxist notion is what's a pure lie.

"we also want a system that balances the rights of creators with the rights and needs of the larger society"

Translation: you want to restrict individual rights for the benefit of "larger society". Since you're talking about restricting my rights too, I take this personally and I'd like to suggest you go shove it.


Actually I think there is a libertarian argument that copyright is a form of government mandated monopoly. This destroys the ability of individuals to make private law contracts, between, say an artist and a consumer.

This is another one of those arguments where name calling and the right/left dichotomy breaks down.

Michael Bernstein

Brad, copyright itself restricts the rights of individuals by granting a state-enforced monopoly to the author. These monopolies were never intended to be perpetual, but time-limited. The current situation where existing copyrights are being extended again and again with no concommitant benefit to the public (supposedly represented by the state in this deal) is removing incentives to continue creating, and is also raising ever-higher barriers to new creativity.

The original intention behind copyright was to create a balanced deal, where creators got a limited monopoly in exchange for their work eventually entering the public domain. That balance is now *seriously* out of whack, and urgently needs to be redressed.

Alan Kellogg

Some people create in order to share. On this page you can read contributions and comments thereon from many different people. We like to talk about things, to tell people about stuff. Seeing somebody else claim our words, our story as their own is something we hate. So we take measures to protect our stories from theft. But getting money for our tales is not entirely necessary.

We're story tellers, it's how we pass on information, how we communicate. We could no more stop telling tales than we could stop breathing. Given a way to tell our stories we will use it. If no outlet for our creative efforts exists, we will create one. If we must break the law to tell our stories, then the law will be violated more often than a crack whore at a biker rally.

The problem is not getting people to tell their story.

Mark Federman

There are many types of slightly more complex economic transactions than the simplistic "I produce content and should get paid for that content" model. For example, many musicians make their music available for download in order to develop a fan base, and make their money from concerts and merchandising. Or, they make older music available for free, so that people will buy their newer music. (This works for writers, too.) Others realize the difference among various media types and make their works available both for download and physical purchase simultaneously (eg. Doctorow, Lessig). Companies make their software freely available, and make their money from all sorts of other anciliary services (eg. OpenFlows, among many others.)

I, personally, earn most of my income from speaking and lecturing. Almost all of my talks, lectures and course materials are available under a Creative Commons license, and can be freely downloaded and used. What I SELL is the performance and experience of my playshops - the portion of the content that is the downloadable written material, while substantial, is only a relatively small part of the experience, and the learning that occurs during the experience.

With every technological shift throughout history, there has been tremendous disruption to all aspects of society. The shift, and concomittent disruption, we are experiencing is nothing new; neither are the screams of those with entrenched interests.

The incentive of the limited monopoly (and those who currently have economic power often ignore the 'limited' part) is an artefact of a former era. We are in the challenging position of attempting to figure out what the "incentives" are for our era - or, using more direct language, how to make a living providing that which people find of sufficient value to pay for.

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