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RE: GPL & commercial software, the critical distinction (fwd)

Forwarded message:

> From: Matthew James Gering <[email protected]>
> Subject: RE: GPL & commercial software, the critical distinction (fwd)
> Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 00:30:14 -0700 

> And you would be stupid to expose yourself to full liability.

No, being a single proprietorship isn't stupid. It may not be something you
like but it isn't stupid. I will agree that depending on the size and type
of business it isn't always the best way, but then being a multi-national
incorporation isn't the best way to do local contract work for SOHO's (for
example) either.

> Regulation includes much more than licensing and registration. Try
> hiring a couple employees,

As long as it's only two I don't have to worry about federal regulations and
such, they only kick in when I hire 3 or more.

> paying freelance individuals,

Hand them their 1099's and they're out the door. I just pay them whatever I
agreed (gross before taxes) and the 1099 is *their* promise to deal with the

> setup office space,

Sign a lease and wallah.

> get yourself a company car

All I need for that is a DBA, can even open bank accounts and get credit
cards in the company name with nothing but a DL and that DBA.

> and do your fed income taxes.

As a single proprietorship I do my taxes the same old way I always did them
except I must include the SE documents which only add a few pages. If I do
the contract work via 1099's (which says that the contractor is responsbile
for the taxes on that income) all I have to show is the gross amount paid to
that contract person.

> If they enforced every word of every code strongly and
> literally it would be nearly impossible to conduct business.

No, it wouldn't. For example I do contract work for small office - home
office companies (generaly 10 or less employees total). I write software,
install software, train, repair hardware, do upgrades, etc. and there are
literaly NO regulations at any level on those activities outside those
imposed by 1099's for sub-contractors (who work their own hours and must
provide their own tools) and the contract I and the customer agree to.
If I buy something for a customer I pass the receipt along to them and get
reimbursed for my time (on a seperate receipt) and the exact amount for the
items purchased (I am acting as their agent and not a reseller) so I don't
even need a tax number technicaly (since I don't pay state sales tax on
labor costs and am not selling them the items purchased). All I need is a
$15 DBA and a bunch of blank 1099's.

Why do cities and states require licenses on such things as air conditioning
or auto mechanics? Because for years there were no licenses required and
anybody could do it. After enough decades of scam artists, poorly run
business who cost customers money because they went out of business without
doing the work, or they did sub-standard (as defined by the practitioners of
that activity) work.

I challenge you to find an example where a state or federal regulation was
imposed before the industry matured.

> Bullshit, monopolies exist because of the regulation.

No, monopolies exist because people are greedy and want to own everything.
History is full of examples where industries were unregulated (ever read
Upton Sinclair?) and abused the employees and the market and as a result
regulation was imposed. It's interesting that free-market mavens never seem
to mention that the vast majority of monopoly examples occured *before*
industry regulation was imposed.

Even in the Microsoft case, it's only now that they've grown so big and
become so porous about information that the government has stepped in and
begun asking "has the industry matured to the point where continued
non-regulation is a detriment because it allows hording of industry

Even if we were to de-regulate the clothing industry for example it is
highly unlikely that child labor and sweat shops would become less
prevalent. Of course I'd like to see your evidence to the contrary.

"Those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it"


> Bullshit again, there is a *big* difference between a regulated market
> (mixed capitalist/socialist economy) and a command economy. So because
> we don't live in Soviet Russia we should all bend over and take it?

A regulated market is something that has regulation imposed from the
outside (ie besides the supplier and consumer). There are certainly
different kinds of regulated economies just like there are different kinds
of mammals. But to say that Zebra's aren't mammals because they don't look
like an Aardvark is a dis-serivice.

You, and every other free-market maven, have yet to demonstrate with
historical example that free-market works.

> Coercive power takes form via regulation. Without it a bad monopoly is a
> short-lived one.

Tell that to the rail-roads of the mid to late 1800's, the meat packing
industry of the late 1800's and early 1900's. The sweat houses of the
garment industry since the early 1800's, etc.

No sir, history doesn't support your proposition at all.

> Liability, liability, liability. Regulation often promotes bad practice
> as businesses comply with minimum regulation and nothing more instead of
> thinking for themselves. What is worse is government often shields
> companies from liability.

See above examples. Hell, take a look at the wet pet food market now for a
perfect example of why non-regulation is a bad thing and why liability and
other such buzz words don't work in the real world. And you were wondering
why your little toodles was loosing her hair, was always excited and
aggitated and has the health of a pet 3-4 years older than the chronological

Bottem line, in a free market (no regulation other than consumer and
supplier) there are no controlling mechanisms and no recourse for the
consumer because they have nothing to demonstrate even an implied warranty
or liability of manufacturer (read software licenses to see how this can be
side stepped easily, hint: imagine a software license on the side of a can
of beans.).


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