17 posts • joined Thursday 17th January 2008 01:26 GMT
All the crowdsourcing web sites I've looked at make it clear that what you are engaging in is speculative investment (usually using kinder words, but not unclear though).
AC has gotten to the root of the issue in a way that the reg article itself did not though. The key part of the ASIC release is "the owner of Australian-based websites that facilitate this crowd funding may be legally considered as the person making an offer to arrange for the issue that financial product."
So this doesn't affect kickstarted.com (which I sincerely doubt is hosted in Australia) but does affect crowdsourcing startups (not crowdsourcing projects) hosted in Australia. So this is months (?) of work by the regulator who has just announced: by all means do this - just make sure you don't do it in our jurisdiction (and create jobs in Australia, use the Australian broadband network, use Australian data centres etc. etc.).
The better approach by ASIC would have been to cite this as a weakness in existing regulation and recommend that the regulation be amended for special cases of 'fundraising below $xyz (or maximum exposure by an individual of $abc). The fact they haven't (or were not given scope to) suggests some level of political involvement.
If a 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - what is it?
So if I don't argue with Rik Myslewski's summary, or SJ's original comments - then I have to assume that the 7" device is not an iPhone or an iPad but something else.
What could it be?
Maybe an iPod?
I already use: Kindle (orig white), iPad, iPhone and MacBook for different tasks. The iPad I actually use the least of the four. For entertainment I probably use the Kindle the most (ok I like to read fiction), followed by the iPhone (sports scores, news, a little reading when I caught in a delay without the Kindle).
If the 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - I'm betting it's a kindle. Optimised for the 'newsstand' and 'books' apps and not much else. I tried reading a book on the iPad (a freebie at Christmas from iTunes by Jo Nesbro) and it almost broke my wrist. A 10" device is just too heavy for reading for hours at a time. The kindle is ideal.
Do I think Apple can come up with a 7" device light enough for me to replace my Kindle. No. I even tried the B&N Nook Color - still too heavy IMHO.
But I'm guessing the 7" device is an iPod.
Regional price variations
Regional price variations (and release scheduling) are killers of sales.
However I can understand why in Australia that the margin needs to be higher than the exchange rate alone: industrial relations and other business regulation. The cost of doing business here in Australia is SO MUCH higher than in the US that it is literally cheaper for 1000 consumers to import themselves (and pay relatively high single unit pricing/shipping) than for a subsidiary to open up shop and hire staff and import 1000 things (at transfer pricing) and ship locally.
I believe that the productivity commission report also addresses this. But since the last government that attempted IR reform was voted out wholesale, no politician is going to address this for several decades. If ever.
I propose opening an 'apple store' / 'argos' concept store with nice shiny computers/display gadgets to use and some helpful staff to show consumers how to order via amazon etc. Optionally (for a small fee) you can have the goods delivered to the store to pick up rather than have it delivered to your home. Maybe there is a fee to use the computer, or a fee to use the 'checkout' (some proxy on https should catch most credit card entry screens).
My point is - if all that local shops are doing is importing overseas stuff and reselling it, there is little value to the consumer in truly shopping locally. What makes me want to shop locally (wherever I am) are: things that I want/need that are uniquely available only 'here'. Would it shock a clothes retailer to think that in their personnel they have more knowledge about what people want to buy/wear than all the fashion labels combined?
Enterprises unable to pay
My experience is that large businesses are unable to pay licensing fees while there is an option to not pay licensing fees.
For several years the company I work for has been the primary developers on a F&OSS project and we hoped to raise money the way you describe - but whilst 'small' companies purchased licenses, and individuals who wanted to help the project purchased licenses, enterprises were quite frank with us that their accounting rules prevent them from purchasing licenses. I think the argument goes something like this: 'we have an obligation to our shareholders, and if a shareholder saw we are paying for something that we have no legal requirement to pay for - well we're toast'.
This is a short-sighted view to be sure, and doesn't really address total cost of ownership - but after 6 years of this we eventually decided that the problem wasn't going to go away.
This also explains why MySQL was always dual licensed - it very neatly 'required' enterprises to license it if they didn't want to GPL the applications they were writing that were linked to the mysqlclient.so.
morals, the GPL has no requirement that anyone release modified code, there is a requirement that if you distribute compiled modified code that you also agree to respond to requests for the sources.
Richard Chirgwin - full points; SMH/TSH - minus several million points...
I completely agree with Richard, and it's great to see an article dispell the FUD so simply. Pity this got no airplay here in Sydney Australia.
Yes: Vodofone are probably speading to the SecurID people at RSA right now about better authentication solutions (no I don't work for them), and Yes: access to customer data should be graduated - but anyone who thinks that these lapses are in any way unique to Vodafone Australia are living in fantasy land.
In my limited experience, here in Sydney, Australia corporate IT do not invest any time or money into authentication, change control, encryption etc. certainly in comparison with European and Scandinavian companies I've worked with. Just look at the job ads - these requirements are the 51st bullet point on a Systems Admin job description - very poor.
Not about price, but dependant on another price is not Free or Open
I think Matt Asay has raised some issues that 'users' of F&OSS are interested in, but two of the most critical points seem to have been missed:
1) F&OSS is NOT about price:
2) F&OSS that depends on non-F&OSS is encumbered:
Large proprietary focussed software companies 'swallowing' open source projects tend to to quickly make the technology dependant on something that is purely proprietary. Long before Oracle got involved, you needed to use MySQL client to connect to MySQL server, and any software that links to MySQL Client must be GPL (or you must purchase a commercial MySQL client library). The value proposition for Oracle/Sun in MySQL is that most companies don't want to GPL their internal Commercial-in-Confidence apps so they'll buy commercial MySQL client licenses to keep those apps non-GPL.
For F&OSS to excel in the future there does NEED to be a funding model for it that works, and key to that is getting the message across that the 'F' is for Freedom not Price. It is my impression today that more people are interested in zero-dollar downloads than they are in F&OSS. After investing over a $1M in developing F&OSS I've found that many many people who rely on my software will sooner spend $$$ on proprietary software rather than help fund the development of F&OSS (which they self-righteously think should cost zero-dollars).
I think that the key message that needs to be communicated about F&OSS is the intrinsic benefits: customisability, security, flexibility of F&OSS - not price. Anyone funding F&OSS is not the Devil - those who use it and don't help fund it look more Devilish to me.
His business was built on quicksand
If everyone else was building houses on sand would you too? Or do you build on rock? Sure building on rock is more expensive - but after the first rains come yours is the only one left standing. I had the choice 7 years ago whether to build by business on proprietary software, on F&OSS with investment or on F&OSS with none or minimal investment. I've spent as much (probably more) investing in the F&OSS that my business runs on than on comparable proprietary software. Sure there has been little rain so it may seem that the only difference between my business and others is that I've made less profit - but rain always eventually comes.
Erm - maybe he should just pay?
I think it's awesome he's NOW putting some money and ingenuity and time into open source software. If El Reg was trying to highlight that this is in fact what open source is about - not just complaining when Oracle decides to take its bat and ball away and go home - then good on 'em.
But really - 50 servers running for paying customers, and he hasn't already been factoring in $1000 per socket? Open Source Software (Free Software) is not about getting away without paying - it's about having the freedom to improve and customise the software. The guy says he was contributing previously - I guess at some significantly lower level (or else the article is hardly news is it?).
Over 6 years I've invested roughly $750K gross (errm $500K net?) into the F&OSS I run my business on. To me it seems that just because licensees don't have a legal obligation to pay/contribute they think they can get away without it - it's all "someone else will pay". I'm sorry to burst someone's utopian dream - if nobody pays then the programmers eventually get tired of being evicted from their houses, and no young programmers have success stories to inspire them to pursue this model.
Perhaps if this guy had been contributing at this level all along then Sun would still be around, or the new sponsor (Oracle) would have felt they were getting real value out of having their asset free/open - not just simply carrying a lot of freeloaders with no net benefit.
Free Software vs. Zero-Dollar Downloads
Until recently Free Software has largely been indistinguishable from Zero-Dollar Downloads. This is changing of necessity: the volunteerism and the economic models that underpinned Zero-Dollar Downloads have largely failed to produce the hours of effort suitable for feature innovation, maintaining development and quality.
As this changes, different teams are using all sorts of different models. Cutting out the 'development community' (even a successful one) may be required to accelerate development enough to convince the majority of 'users' that what they previously paid nothing for is now worth paying something for.
Closing off the development process does not make the software any less FREE nor does it make it any less OPEN SOURCE. Yes: communities having access to 'in development' code and the development process can be beneficial - but not necessarily for the majority of the user base, and not necessarily for the primary contributor of development effort. Much successful open source software was NOT open to the community during initial development, including Java.
The total cost of software implementation is barely affected by the cost of the download (see "The valuation of IT assets" published in The Financial Times UK Edition 36,501 on Monday October 1 2007) or whether the code was open to the community during development.
Note: I am NOT (and have never been) an Oracle or Sun employee. I have contributed roughly net $750K in salaries for staff to write code released publicly under GPL/LGPL.
Proven ability to deliver large infrastructure on time on budget
In recent years the labor party certainly hasn't shown an ability to deliver large infrastructure (in NSW) for anything like an industry accepted price (schools, home insulation, etc). I look at the proposals like this: labor - will waste $43B; liberal - will waste $7B. Since it's coming out of my pocket I favour promises to waste less.
Yes it'd be nice to have national FTTH - but the only country I know of to have done it is Korea. Anyone know what model they used and can sum up why it's worked?
So much for accusing the BBC of poor user interface design. The message quoted in the article given by the Kaspersky software "http://www.bbc.co.uk is used to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other confidential data. Access denied" is worse. Is this message libellous?
Surely the message should have said "http://www.bbc.co.uk has been flagged as a security risk by firm XYZ. If this assessment is accurate then this web site could be used to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other confidential data. Access denied".
Is there a lawyer reading who cares to comment?
I know of a test case in Australian law that any text displayed on a computer physically located in Australia is deemed to have been published in Australia and the author (regardless of their location) can be tried for libel. So at least in Australia the BBC could sue the software vendor for libel for each case where the message was shown on a computer in Australia.
That could add up to a very big payout - maybe enough to give everyone a TV license fee holiday!
Correction to article
You can download etitles even if you don't own the physical device.
Books available for reading on Amazon Kindle can also be read on Kindle for PC unless otherwise noted on the product detail page. ... Periodicals such as newspapers, magazines, and blogs, and personal documents cannot be viewed on Kindle for PC.
These same restrictions also apply to Kindle for iPhone. In other words - you need Kindle if you want all the etitles.
Forking works - prior evidence
As both Geoff and Goat Jam pointed out - X.org forked XFree86 and became more popular, CVSNT forked CVS and became so popular most people think CVSNT is CVS (at least on windows) and CentOS forks RedHat and is commonly known as the 'cost-free redhat'.
Yes the 'brand' has value separate to the software, and certainly part of the price Oracle paid for Sun was for the MySQL brand, but successful branding is different to competition.
Having the FREEDOM to use and re-use the source code (and any related patents GPLv3) fundamentally breaks any claim of anti-competitiveness - someone can always compete - that they choose not to or they do so with poor marketing does not mean that someone that does put in the effort and markets well should be sanctioned.
Sun/Oracle should be given favour for releasing code under a FREEdom license - not vilified for it.
It's a beat up - nobody cares about this 'bug'
In the open-source model if an issue is important enough to enough people then one of them will have the skills to 'fix' it and start offering an alternative download with some google ads on the page and enough people will download it and click on the ads to annoy the original dev team enough to take the patch and apply it to the tree.
The fact that none of this has happened in over 7 years just demonstrates that it's not really an issue for many people (or there are even more serious issues making this one irrelevant).
Alternatively maybe the author of the article is being clever and suggesting that since no-one cares about the source code and the 'open source' nature of the project that the OOo developers should close the source and sell it to a commercial interest (Yahoooffice anybody?).
Yet another tool...
Businesses spend (good) money/time investing in SCCM tools because they perceive a real world benefit greater than simple 'record keeping' and the profusion of open source 'tools' does not help.
The CVSNT project has just released the first stable of CVSNT/EVS 3.1 and it is a single server that supports CVS and SVN clients (and will soon add VSTS/TFS clients and will eventually add GIT clients probably too) and supports change sets, failsafe audit, access control, promotion levels centralised rules etc etc. At least it's an attempt at addressing the bigger picture.
If a developer can work more productively with tool XYZ - all good - but the business needs certain tools and controls and processes at the server side and the only thing that a developer gives to an organisation by bringing in tools through the back door without listening and addressing the requirements of all the stakeholders is a legacy of total paranoid control by management.
Sneak GIT in the back door today - tomorrow have ClearCase hoisted upon you.
MySQL not Open Source
MySQL has not been an open source database since version 3.23 (a long time ago now). Central to the MySQL approach to licensing is that it is only open source if your software is open source - meaning that ANY company who uses it is in violation unless they also license their software as FOSS.
Once you understand that MySQL is not an open source database it changes the nature of the transaction with Sun - they now have a commercial database to offer, and will possibly enforce that licensing much more strictly since they can audit the use of the software on their own hardware and operating system(s): oh you appear to be using MySQL with an in-house built application - where is your commercial license for that?