Cooper amplifies a point that Dave originally brought up — he says that Lessig’s 10-year escrow idea would probably harm most normal ISVs and leave companies like Microsoft stronger. The logic is simple. Microsoft’s biggest competitor is previous versions of Microsoft products, and the perception among customers that a less functional product is “good enough”.
There are still plenty of people who say “Windows 98 does everything I want; why would I upgrade to XP?” These are the same customers who realize that StarOffice is functionally equivalent to Office 95, and will say “StarOffice is good enough for what I need to do, so why would I pay for Office XP?”
If Lessig had his way, Office 95 would be free, and then those same people would be saying “Office 95 does everything I need; I’ll just use that instead of taking a risk on StarOffice, because I know that Microsoft already has two better versions I could pay money for if I ever outgrow this free version.” In other words, this ten-year escrow idea could be seen as a government mandate to give products away for free in order to put competitors out of business. It boggles the mind.
(Also via Dave, Meg is asking why healthcare companies don’t treat their customers more like customers, then in the same breath asks why the government doesn’t provide universal healthcare. Honestly, I don’t think that the customer service would improve if the healthcare companies become dependent on the government instead of relying on business from customers like Meg. And I take a tiny bit of exception to the complaints about health insurance being so expensive for the “self-insured” – health insurance is expensive for everyone. Just because my insurance premiums get subtracted before ever showing up in my paycheck, it doesn’t mean the insurance was free. The money has to come from somewhere. And although I may not be self-insured, I am self-ensured. Suckling down six cans a day ensures that you never need to waste time eating for sustenance, and can instead eat recreationally when you have time to enjoy it.)