I think that you are absolutely right. Take for example all those who refuse to wear seatbelts because they are afraid to be stuck in a car since they know that cars always explode after a crash. Since movies and tv series display things that most people have no direct experience of (like how it's like to be a president or a police officer) then what you see on the screen probably registers as experience in their brains.
This is also why trends in movies change what people see as authentic. For example in the 70:ties there where a change from authentic looking blood to the massively red colored movie blood that is still used today. That change was done in order to avoid MPAA ratings since the blood looked obviously fake, but now decades later if you shoot a movie with real authentic blood, people will complain in droves that it doesn't look authentic
Yes all source code is fully available on our public ftp server. Now using GPL is much easier for me than it's for you since what we sell isn't the applications as such. What we do is sell financial data (stock market, forex, etc data) so our income is for the data provided and not for the applications as such which of course is vastly different from a pure application developer like you.
However, all our competitors are only selling their data with closed binary applications and API:s, and one of our main benefits over those competitors are in fact some of our software (especially our datafeed to sql application), a leverage that they could remove in anytime by simply changing our software to also accepting their data streams and thus making it easy for our customers to just switch supplier. Another drawback for us to release our sources is that it exposes our highly compressed datafeed protocol something that in our industry otherwise is seem as highly protected IP (since we are in the business to (among other things) deliver as much data using as little resources [bandwidth having to be one of them] as possible)
However I do feel that releasing all our software under the GPL has benefits that trump the potential downsides; for example we had one customer who uses Solaris and since they could simply download the source and compile our stuff themselves they could become paying and happy customers (otherwise I would simply have to tell them that "sorry we do not support Solaris"). And we have received some patches from end users that fixed things in configurations which we would probably never be in position of.
Regarding your point #4, integration is not a problem (and we have our stuff integrated into some systems already) since those parts (our API) are released under LGPL. Selling the company is not something that we have an interest in ever, there is no exit plan.
GPL does not imply that you sell your software and have to give it away if anyone wants it for free. It only means that you have to give the source code to any of your paying customers if they ask for it. So you don't have to give it to any one else, of course one of your paying customers could then compile a binary and put up on their website or a torrent site. However this they can do today even without the source since they can simply put your closed binary on any torrent site. The difference is of course that with GPL they would be legally in the clear but that does not seam to prevent any one from pirating software today.
That it does not fully fit your market model is something that I do understand and I'm in no way trying to convince you to switch to GPL or whatever, I simply pointed out that it's possible to sell GPL software (since I do it myself I know that it's possible). And do I think that GPL FLIF will see wide adoptance? Hell no.
I think that you hit the nail on the head! There is unfortunately no incentive to be honest. It's the same as in politics. If you are honest then you get no votes because you make no promises (that you know that you cannot honour) and when they find out that your opponent lied then they assume that everyone lies which rubs off on you.
Or sports for that matter, what good is it to compete without steroids when all that will happen is that people will assume that you take it anyway and if you don't you will have a disadvantage towards the ones who actually do.
The big question would be how we as a society can move from this absurd reality into a world where honesty actually would pay off. I don't know.
A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.