Open source software

New business model needed so that all who create Open Source intellectual property can be fairly remunerated

Without Open Source software, the Internet could only be a fraction of what it is today. As an example, 66% of web servers are Apache, or lightppd whilst only 21% are proprietary Microsoft servers (and 6% Google). (The proportion of Open Source web servers on busier sites is even higher).

The old proprietary copyright model actually belongs to an age prior to the Internet.

One problem with Open Source, however (and a problem that is barely less true for the copyright intellectual property) is that it does not have a business model that allows for more than a few of those who produce Intellectual Property, be it software, art, web pages containing art, literature, research or journalism to be adequately remunerated for their work.

I think too many people who create intellectual property (myself included, as a contributor to a content-managed web-site, I would argue), that others have gained from, are not close to fairly remunerated for the hours of each day they put into creating that Intellectual Property.
The following was posted in response to the article and is currently awaiting approval.

Below, I will put a proposal as to how we could begin to achieve this in world that is still largely been ruled by the dogma of the "free market" which was imposed undemocratically on most it in the 1980's, if not before, but before I do, I would like to argue how this could be far more easily achieved if the "free market" dogma were to be cast aside.

How producers of Open Source Intellectual Property could be fairly and transparently remunerated through Government funding

One easy way that this could be accomplished if the "free market" dogma were to be cast aside by any Government, would be for that Government to establish a pool of funds raised from taxes or other Government revenue.

Whilst, of course, the "free-market" ideologues, who dictate most public policy across the world today, scream indignantly and hysterically whenever the 'T' word is raised (but, curiously, not when people are forced to pay considerably greater amounts of their earnings to private corporations. e.g. Superannuation funds in Australia), most ordinary citizens, if given the free informed choice, would hardly be likely to object to the relatively small amount that would be required from each of them to make it possible for all producers of Intellectual property that can be shown to be of value to others to be properly remunerated for their work.

In fact, if you think about it, that is what has already helped Open Source software possible to develop to the extent it already has.

A vast number of Open Source products have surely been produced by people by public university employees, whose salaries have been paid for out of taxpayer funds. Few "free market" ideologues have ever attempted to blow the whistle on this, because the gain to society as a whole is too obvious to deny.

I am simply arguing that this be extended in a transparent and systematic way so that all, rather than just a minority, of those who produce Open Source Intellectual property can be fairly remunerated.

Once this fund is established it would be easy, using statistical software to measure the value that others place on each piece of intellectual property. With that knowledge, each producer of each piece of intellectual property could be proportionately paid. The formula used would probably be a non-linear function, possibly based on the logarithm function, rather than a straight linear function. The former would allow those who create Intellectual property that is highly valued by others to be paid more than those who produce property that is not quite so highly valued, whilst also preventing those, whose intellectual property is shown to be of value to orders of magnitude more people, from being paid excessively.

It would create a financial incentive to produce better intellectual property, whilst also ensuring that all who produced intellectual property of demonstrable worth to others would be fairly remunerated.

I envision the measure of worth of a piece of Intellectual property to be a combination, amongst a few other factors, of the number of downloads and its storage size.

Of course such a system could be rigged in theory, but I would argue that the amount of effort required to rig such such a system without being caught out, would not make it worth the effort.

As an example, if we were simply to use the number of downloads to judge the worth of a price of IP, a person whose IP was downloaded by 100 people might receive just for that piece of IP an amount of five Australian dollars. A person, whose piece of IP was downloaded by 1000 people would receive, not 50 Australian dollars which would be the case if a linear formula were used, but, rather ten Australian dollars.

That way, those who produce truly excellent products would be more highly remunerated but not excessively remunerated, whilst those who are learning and who produce work, whose value is still recognised by a considerable, if smaller number of others, would still receive a payment which would at least allow him/her to subsist from his/her work until such time as his/her work is more greatly appreciated by others.

A business model that could allow suppliers of Open Source Intellectual property to be more fairly remunerated prior to establishment of Government funding

Until governments are persuaded/forced by democratic will to adopt such a measure, I think that something that would go at least a small way towards achieving this could be achieved within our "free market" system using micro-payments.

Micro-payments systems already exist. One is Flattr (see As innovative and useful as Flattr is, I don't consider it flexible enough and equitable enough to ever be very widely adopted by producers and consumers of Intellectual Property.

I have in mind a more flexible business-model, that would be sufficiently more flexible, that could be implemented with relative ease with open source software (e.g. PHP, Javascript and Mysql). It could allow the provider of the IP to be more adequately remunerated if a large enough number of people value his/her work sufficiently. Each consumer of the IP, who chose to, at the time he/she is viewing the IP could initiate arrangements to make an appropriate micro-payment for the IP at a later time of his/her choosing according to much he/she valued the IP.

That could be done, by simply clicking on an icon that could be placed on the page by the author. A form would then be generated. The consumer could then accept whatever defaults are supplied (for example, by pressing the return key), or alternatively, could rate the value of the work on a scale of say, 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.

Nothing further need be done by the consumer until when or if he/she chooses to contact the intermediary to have micro-payments made for all the intellectual property he/she has consumed over the last, say, week, three weeks or calendar month.

At that point he/she can simply accept the default micro-payment suggested by the summary report form for each supplier of IP by pressing the enter button or he/she could make make adjustments before hitting the enter key.

The data from the report could then be sent to the intermediary, with whom she/he holds an account and the intermediary could then accumulate, from all account-holders, the micro-payments to be paid to each supplier of IP.

The necessary bank fees and international transaction fees could be paid in total by the intermediary and the necessary proportions deducted from the accounts of each consumer of IP, together with a reasonable commission for the work provided by the intermediary.

I see no reason why this could not work and, over time become significantly more widely used than, for example, Flattr.

If any government, freed from the dogma of "free market", were to decide that it wanted to take over this business, but in a transparent fashion, I would welcome that, but, of course, ask for payment for my work in setting it up.