Subject: Re: Dead software (was: A draft business plan for free software LISP vendors)
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/03/08
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Fernando D. Mato Mira" <>
| I suddenly realized that the current model where when a company goes
| bankrupt or decides to kill a product and the source is not released is

  no, it isn't wrong.  from a customer perspective, it may be undesirable,
  the creator and owner of something has every right to what he sees fit,
  and you have no business at all telling him or anyone else that what he's
  doing is wrong.  first, respect the inalienable right to property and the
  fruits of one's labor.  only _then_ can you suggest ways to _entice_ the
  owner to do what you think would be desirable for _both_ parties.

  as long as you guys who want something from others do not recognize that
  you, as users, have _no_ right to demand aything from those who create
  it, you will cause your own downfall as soon as you create something that
  others might want.  if you don't think that will ever happen, you _still_
  have no right to demand anything at all of those who bring something into
  existence.  if you do, the next step is to _demand_ that those who can
  bring something into existence do so under threat of various penalties.

  having been on the receiving end of such demands, in my case from the
  Norwegian government, which for a few years decided to tax me based on
  what I should have been _able_ to earn, and therefore _probably_ earned
  without reporting to them, so I should pay taxes on it, plus penalties
  for lying to them, I am very strongly opposed to anyone who makes the
  sort of claims you do.  I consider the claims you make to be truly evil,
  just like the Norwegian tax system is truly evil.

| Maybe if some people get bitten like this in the States or countries with
| similar legal systems, they should file a class action lawsuit in the
| hope of establishing a precedent so that things like that cannot happen
| anymore.

  so you're seriously proposing to _sue_ people because they didn't want to
  give you what you wanted from them?  why would _anyone_ want to give the
  slightest bit of evidence of what they were capable of under your system?
  the only guarantee not to be sued by you would be if you didn't know what
  people had that you could want.  think about it.

  I don't think you know bankruptcy law, which would not be particularly
  surprising, since so few people care about the law.  well, I do, so I
  know that when a company goes into Chapter 11 (Reorganization), anyone
  can basically come up and say "I'll help keep you alive if I get X, Y,
  and Z if still can't make it", or you could even offer to buy X, Y, and Z
  right there.  if a company goes into Chapter 7 (Liquidation), you get to
  offer a ridiculously low amount of money for something that turned out
  not to sustain the creator.  all that matters to the managers of the
  bankruptcy is that they recover the outstanding debt.  (this the best
  approximation to garbage collection the business world knows about.)

  so believe it or not, you _already_ have the opportunity to buy the
  source code when a company folds, and the creditors are not even
  _allowed_ to demand more for the company assets than to cover their debt,
  because then the requirements of Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings have
  been violated: upon opening Chapter 7 proceedings, the owners have _lost_
  all rights to the assets, and the real owners are now the creditors.
  should they come out with a _profit_, a lot of companies would have to
  fight off Chapter 7 proceedings from greedy competitors, so it's illegal
  to make a profit after Chapter 7, and a court will force the creditors to
  go back to Chapter 11.  when in Chapter 11, the company is deemed able to
  continue operation provided that some of the debts are consolidated, and
  that, too, includes _selling_ assets to various bidders.  the managers of
  the process, elected by the creditors, aim to "restart" the business and
  to make more money than they would if they simply waited and liquidated
  the assets.

  I wish people would get more interested in _knowing_ the world they want
  to change.  I can't keep lecturing obnoxious morons forever just because
  they have these wild-eyed desires that they think can be accomodated if
  they start a revolution or something.

| Besides that, people should start asking for such kind of thing when
| negotiating a purchase.  Management of the living company should not have
| much trouble giving in, as they are supposed to be in "the company will
| live forever and our products will be a success".  Saying no implies they
| are uncertain about their future and sends out a "you'd better look
| somewhere else" message.

  so if your employer asks you if you would like to donate your liver upon
  your timely or untimely demise, you fully expect that if you decline,
  your employer should consider your liver to be damaged goods and fire you
  because you _might_ be an alcoholic?  and you do not consider such a
  request to be slightly suspicious, such as allowing your employer to
  force you to leave your liver when you get fired?  (insert Monty Python
  sketch for best effect.)

  here's a lithmus test on "good ideas": if it were applied to you, would
  you still think it's a good idea?  in other words: if you can't imagine
  yourself as the vendor, maybe it's time to drop the good idea stuff, too?