Open Source: It's Not Just For Software
from the revolutionary-changes dept
The one view that aggravates me the most in debates on intellectual property is when people insist that things like open source or the sharing of ideas is somehow “anti-capitalist” or “anti-corporate”. That seems backwards to me, as our current intellectual property system awards government granted, long-term monopolies to things – rather than letting the free market decide. That is a lot more anti-capitalistic than getting ideas out there, and letting companies figure out how to make money off of them. Now, Wired Magazine has an article that suggests “open source” will revolutionize the knowledge industry the way the assembly line revolutionized manufacturing. The writer isn’t just talking about software (and isn’t even talking about the “official” definition of open source), but rather the general concept of collaboration and the open sharing of ideas. He gives a few examples of how such collaborative projects are starting to compete with “proprietary” companies – and shows how the open projects are all for commercial usage. Those against such open systems will argue back that none of these collaborative projects are making nearly as much money as some of the proprietary offerings they’re competing with. There’s a simple explanation for that: monopolies get monopoly rents, such that they are making more money. However, that can’t last in the face of competition – and if the monopoly is getting fat and happy because of a government granted monopoly, they’re ripe for being taken down in the market by new competition. The open ideas may not be making money yet, but they are disruptive ideas. They’re not considered to be “as good”, “as safe” or “as reliable” by certain people, but that’s mostly a marketing issue – and as that hurdle gets crossed, whether the proprietary systems like it or not, they will find themselves competing against it.