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RE: Fees for Publications & Seminar[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Fees for Publications & Seminar
- From: "Conrad Harrison" <sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com>
- Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 15:45:01 +0930
Except Scott has ignored the basis for the formation of the free software foundation (FSF), and the GNU general public license (GPL) and free documentation license (FDL), and other licenses such as the design science license (DSL) and creative commons and science commons. The Copyleft movement wasn't created by publishers it was created by creators. Creators who without electronic distribution, typically relinquish their copyright to the publishers. The United Nations has started using CopyLeft type licensing on its publications, because a publication on water supply for small remote villages and appropriate technology handbooks are pointless, if the people who need them cannot afford them. Now NGO's can buy the publications and copy verbatim and distribute to those who need. Codes of Practice are mandatory and created by volunteers, and then handed over to publishers. The publishers are profit making organizations, their task is to maximize profits. Prices are not controlled by the cost of production but by the value of the product to the buyer. It is the profit that the buyer gets from the product that gives it value. To quote: The successful producer of an article sells it for more than it cost him to make, and that's profit. But the customer buys it only because it is worth more to him than he pays for it, and that's his profit. No one can long make a profit producing anything unless the customer makes a profit using it. [Samuel B. Pettengill] Economy of scale ignores the diversity of individuals and their available resources, and their expectations of quality, and the differing value of products to those individuals. People can better afford things if they produce themselves, rather than buy low cost import. That is people in developing countries can afford goods if they are making a living producing goods. So copying and distributing provides them with a source of income. The GPL doesn't require payment of royalties to the creator. If a code of practice is mandatory then it should be readily available in a multitude of formats, without the hindrance of copyright getting in the way of the dissemination of knowledge. If I understand correctly the view of the CopyLeft movement is that Copy Right has been distorted and abused, its intent was to protect creators: it doesn't it mostly protects publishers. Publishers can hold copy right and not publish, preventing authors from making an income from their work. When an author uses a Copy Left license then all persons are effectively permitted to be publishers: but each publisher has different resources, different localities and different markets. The FSF view is that creation may take a great deal of time and effort, but publication doesn't, and development progresses faster by adding to source rather than re-inventing the wheel. Copying files to disks, or making available on servers is a minor cost. Competent computer scientists can make living by providing real service, and such service pays for the development of the software. They also save time by building on the foundations of heritage. Today most people type notes directly into a computer, they do not write on scrap paper and have others type up. They hand the file over to others to format. If volunteers can write the code, then volunteers can style the code. Further more, once a code is written in say Word, or made Active in say Exel or MathCAD, then revising is a minor activity of adding and modifying clauses. The FSF present the view that massive and expensive infrastructure is not required to copy and distribute electronic media. I seem to recollect reading somewhere that the IBC was partly created because FEMA visited disaster sites around the world, often in places where there is no building code, the IBC provides them with a code to introduce: provided the maps of America are pushed into a national appendix. Now if a code of practice was distributed under the FDL or DSL, then multiple versions would emerge, each generated by differing groups of volunteers. But that doesn't stop the traditional organisations from endorsing one version as the official mandated version. But the official version only needs to be a web site with controlled source, with free access, thus no reason for not complying with code. At the same time other versions arise, without need for payments of royalties, these other versions add value in some way. It could simply be by formatting the plain text source, and producing a word document. It could be printing to a pdf file. Or printing to paper and binding. The printed version could be softback or hardback book. It could have large print or small print. It could be illustrated. Or it could be embodied in software. In other words volunteers give their time freely to create the code. But others, without any one having a monopoly publish and distribute the code in a diversity of forms to suit a multitude of individual needs. For example I only need 1 page out of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) the rest of the structural provisions are a long list of Australian standards which are obvious. The primary users of the BCA are architects and building surveyors. Australian standards is a non-profit organisation, with volunteers, but SAI Global who publishes the standards is a profit making organisation. It benefits SAI Global to keep pushing towards annual subscriptions. Some of their electronic versions of the standards, expire after one year. The BCA is published by the Australian Building Codes Board, and besides being available in printed form, is available in pdf, or online. One of the online options provides access for a low annual fee ($25(AU) I think it was), for viewing the BCA twice in a year. The BCA is revised annually; most builders and drafters get by without ever looking at it. Basically the BCA represents the official stance on what most people actual already do and have been doing for possibly centuries. It is when some new technology is introduced that the BCA minimum performance criteria become important and need to be viewed. Any old version of the code is suitable for getting started with design, and then go check current version online. The other point of the FSF is that a lot of businesses are making a lot of money from publishing way beyond the initial development costs. Sure there is a risk involved with publishing so initial prices are high because not certain how many units will sell. But that is a problem of monopoly and economy of scale: the publisher wants all the market from a single version of a work. If it flops they stop backing the work, but the author cannot go elsewhere, because they relinquished their copyright to the publisher. So an author cannot try publishing say a novel in parts in a magazine or newspaper, nor try a paperback book with a different front cover, or start promotion in a different geographical location. What copyleft permits, is all to publish. Thus author sells a single unit at high price to distributor: software application or e-book. A distributor creates fancy packaging and puts on shelfs in every supermarket. They could consider they have added value and sell at higher unit price than author. But all persons potentially have access to buy direct from author. So distributor sells at lower price than author, and further each buyer in turn, if they wish to put in the effort, can become distributor. If each in the chain sells at half purchase price to two others, then each recovers their costs. If they can sell to more than two others then they start making a profit. If lower prices have larger markets, then the original distributor eventually lowers their price to equilibrium level. That is even though it is possible to get for free from somewhere, not all persons will have access to such resource, and various distributors will be able to sell the product at some suitable price. More over, to many of the distributors what is supplied as electronic media is relatively worthless in its own right, it is what they and others can do with it that has value. Thus the distributor makes their real money from supply of services associated with the electronic media, such as training and customising to better suit the users needs. So on the other hand architects and engineers make their living from being able to use the IBC, BCA and other similar codes. It should be understood that the freedom the FSF talks about is freedom to adapt and modify, not free from fee. Charge what ever extortionate price that you are able for a computer application, but just make the source code available so that users can customise to better suit their needs and do not charge extortionate fees for access to the source code: supply source code at cost of media and postage. The customised versions may have larger markets, but at generally lower cost than the original, the originator can acquire one copy and source and revise own version add more value and regain market. It is all about supplying better service. Many engineers struggle because for the most part they only have a job because regulations created one for them: they actually lack the ingenuity to practice as real engineers. Most of their clients would actually prefer not to employ such services, and only do so as regulations force them to do. Such service has low value, therefore can only charge low fees. Or may be not, for without such service get no approval, therefore can charge extortionate price. But for small projects can get approval without such services, therefore low value service, low price. In any case my point is that the knowledge in codes of practice doesn't belong to anyone, or at least shouldn't, and it is required to be applied by all. Compliance with can be achieved by a diversity of forms. The Copyleft licenses don't require payment of royalties, because each user obtains income appropriate to the value they are offering: each also has a limited market. The creators supply at high price to small market, and distributors at low price to large markets. Eventually all may supply at similar price. Electronic media and intellectual property are different than most other products, development is not all that expensive and nor is the infrastructure to copy and distribute. I'm talking cost: not desire to be a millionaire selling a music CD. It is expensive to design and manufacture a computer, car, or aircraft. On the other hand, not everyone can set up production facilities to produce aircraft or cars. Further, most inventors don't have the financial resources to sue for breach of their patents, or necessarily the resources to physically manufacture in the first place. Once again it is a case of relinquishing rights to a publisher/producer. Having financed a new factory, don't want someone with existing factory to start copying before recover development costs. Why build a new factory? Because existing weren't interested until they saw product was profitable. Information is different. The computer industry could consider people make a lot of money using computers, therefore push the price of computers up because they are highly valuable. But that is likely to produce a net reduction in income, not generate more income for less effort. Finding the balance is complicated: an experiment carried out in the real world. Information is no different in that respect: it has value. Regulators hold monopoly over supply of information which is mandatory to apply, that information is extracted from the minds of volunteers. Volunteers give code authorities the knowledge and information. These code writers could equally well give their information to other producer/publishers. This would create a greater diversity of forms, which would get the intent of the codes applied. The codes could also be more dynamic and adaptive, changing by the minute. The approving authority, as mentioned above could adopt one of these variations and endorse as the official version for a year or more. The objective is to ensure compliance with the intent of the code. By keeping the code to plain text, and releasing copyright, a diversity of alternative published forms may result. This may increase the price of the current form of the IBC, but other forms would be less expensive, individuals however choose which form is of most value to them. For many the simple plain text file would be adequate, for others a printed version may be better. The information or knowledge is distinct from the media on which it is published and distributed. I think will also find: that the copyright should apply to the presentation and media not the content. <end of part 1 > Regards Conrad Harrison B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com Adelaide South Australia ******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* *** * Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp * * This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers * Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To * subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to: * * http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp * * Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you * send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted * without your permission. 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