[Foundation-l] File format policy

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue Feb 14 00:57:09 UTC 2006

Gregory Maxwell wrote:

>Now, the question of do they really have a leg
>to stand on is a separate matter, but can count on a dispute being
>costly either way... We can already see how this is panning out in the
>industry: Everyone of substantial size pays the protection fee.
"Protection fee" is an interesting choice of terminology.

>Generally the enforcement (and licensing costs) of this stuff is tuned
>to keep the economics in favor of supporting the proprietary formats
>and avoiding the push to free formats. If the licensors were to make
>too much of a nuisance of themselves, the public would take the one
>time change out cost to switch entirely to free formats and the
>licensors would lose out massively while the public would benefit
>greatly so the situation remains carefully controlled.
The irony is that if the licensors make too much of a fuss it could kill 
their cash cow.  The one thing that supporters of free software and 
materials can't afford to spend a lot of money on is PR and 
advertising.  As more and more good free alternatives become available, 
the proprietary industry's strongest argument (software reliability) 
becomes less credible.  When they screw up their publicity by being too 
aggressive against the little guy it only drives the customers toward 
the free alternative.

>The preservation of these costly (to society) proprietary formats is
>possible because the primary decision makers in this grand game are
>obligated to maximize profits above all other motives, this provides a
>knob hook for the patent holders to tweak to keep the situation under
>their control.
Those managers of proprietary enterprises who attack every little 
violation of the company's rights as a threat to the bottom line can 
easily find that such actions are counterproductive.  It's a bit like 
industry's counterpart to our wiki-lawyers. :-)


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