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Re: [off topic] Re: Licensing issues

It's been proposed that a book publisher would pay an author for
a doc provided that:

1. No one but the publisher may print copies and make money selling them
2. Online (or CD) copies would be still be freely redistributable and 

This is giving the publisher monopoly rights to publish it.  With no
competition in printed form, the publisher may engage in monopoly
pricing resulting in higher prices to the consumer.  This benefits the
publisher but hurts the consumer.  Making the docs equally free for
all publishers to print will keep prices down by competition.  This is
what we should do (I agree with Terry on this).

Another (and possibly better) way of keeping consumer prices low
would be government regulation which may work best under government
ownership (socialism).  For example, prices of books in the former
USSR were extremely low.  (I should know about it as I read Russian
and have many Russian books in my bookcase.)  It was by no means a
perfect system and publishers cut corners by using cheap paper and
sometimes didn't adequately edit the content. 

Would price controls work without government regulation?  Would the
publisher agree to price the work so that they make no profit and pay
no royalties to the authors?  I don't think LDP is well enough
organized to efficiently administer price controls even if the
publishers agreed to submit to them.

Now there is the problem of monetary incentives for authors and again
I propose that we ask governments and foundations for money.  This is
better than getting money from publishers and would keep docs fully
free.  Governments could also publish the docs but would not have
exclusive rights to print it.  I would like to hear ideas as to how
such money would be distributed to authors.  I think that it should
consist of awards for good docs after they are written (or modified).
The award would depend on both the quality and importance of the doc.
Who will judge them?  Having a blue-ribbon panel might be too costly
if the panel is paid.  Readers can judge provided they are savvy.

For example, a naive reader may read a clearly written doc and rate
it as excellent, not realizing that it has a lot of errors and
omissions.  Another problem arises when one selects a savvy reader to
evaluate a doc and the reader knows the author.  "Knows" may mean
either "likes" of "dislikes" and this will introduce bias in the
evaluation.  If A has been unjustly flamed by B, A is apt to be biased
in evaluating B's work.

Note that the importance of a doc doesn't always depend on the number
of people who use it.  If the doc covers the use of an important
development tool that few people use, it may be very valuable if a
large number of people use the results of what that tool created.  For
example, a program (and docs) for machine translation of languages
might only be used by a few people, but the resulting translations
might be used by very large numbers of people.

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