"Q: You write powerfully in The American Prospect about the
necessity of well-constructed government regulation to support
open-source software. What makes open-source a good worth
"A: I think what is significant about open-source software
is not so much that it is great software or that it is more
powerful or more efficient than other software, but that it commits
itself to a type of intellectual or public commons so that
anybody can take this software and understand it and develop it and
build it into their own applications the way that they want. In
that way, it makes the software like scientific knowledge or like
cases decided by courts. The software becomes a resource for other
people to use and to build upon; it's long been the tradition of
our intellectual property law to encourage ideas and information
and inventions and writings to be turned over to the public in a
kind of commons like this."
"Q: Since we live in a profit-driven economy, why would
programmers spend their time developing software when they have to
make its code available?"
"A: Well, certainly nobody should be forced to work for free. So
if open-source software meant that people couldn't make money, then
very few people would be investing time and energy in developing
open-source software. But the fact is that many businesses have
demonstrated that in fact, open-source software does have an
economic return. And in addition to the many companies that are
producing versions of Linux . . . there are also companies that are
developing applications or modifications of open-source software
for specialized business environments that are themselves
open-source software. They are not doing it out of the goodness of
their hearts. And the reason they can make money is that the value
provided by their businesses is service and support."
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