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Slashback: Sex, Freiheit, Differentiation 178

Here it is again. Back atcha with stuff on ... the actual sex of Tjisana M. Lewis and other foul-ups; Richard Stallman's back-in-proportion response to the out-of-same brouhaha over licensing of KDE; and a reaction to the announcment last week of a fully-preemptive kernel. Not to mention a few followups to the piece Rob posted last week about Amazon's interesting pricing policies.

Shouldn't this be one of those fields marked "required" on e-mail? Tjisana M. Lewis wrote: "Just one minor issue though in case we meet again - I (Product Manager with titles ad nauseaum) am male." (I had written -- with the famous line about 'what happens when you assume' nowhere in mind -- that "she sent the following response ..." regarding the new HP printserver which as of now does not support printing from Linux clients.) With apologies and thanks for the correction, I await the beating with wet noodles. declan points out another goof for which I must shoulder the blame: the judge in question in the DeCSS case is Lewis Kaplan, not Chaplain, as rendered in this story of last week.

Calling Tim Theisen, calling Tim Theisen to the white courtesy telephone ... Richard M. Stallman can't win. At least, that's the impression one gets sometimes from hearing the reactions he draws for saying nearly anything. Critical or glowing, the man says what's on his mind, and there's plenty on it. Including, of late, plenty about GNOME and KDE. As usual, the whole story is both more complex and more satisfying when you know more about it. Several readers pointed at Stallman's response at LinuxToday to the criticism he recieved (both official and unofficial) after he said "Making Qt available under the GPL makes it legal to take an existing GPL-covered program and adapt it to work with Qt." As a happy user of both KDE and GNOME, I must say RMS sounds pretty reasonable to me.

And a special deal for our guests from AOL -- Two bridges! Amazon says: don't worry! It's just an accident! jeko writes " just sent me an email claiming that their different prices for different customers are merely a mistake."

He cites email from a customer rep at Amazon:

"Finally, at any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the more than 4.7 million items on our site may be mispriced.

Kristine Jorgensen,"

"So, there you go. This latest PR row is all just a 'mispricing.' I wish my customers would let me get away with that."

Meanwhile, Amazon is apparently not the only company to play cookie-based pricing games ... An unnamed correspondent writes: "[...] Similar to your story on regarding price differences, I think I've found a similar ploy on I've been checking flights from Washington, DC to Denver, CO. When I first checked prices, the flight came back at $400. Several minutes later, the same flight was priced at over $500. When I switched computers, the same thing happened again: The price on the same flight was $400 in the first instance, and over $500 on the second. Then, I switched browsers ... it happened again. When I cleared my history and disabled cookies, I was able to recreate the price difference again. Try it and see for yourself. So, what's up with this? What is the advantage of switching prices around? Has this practice become widespread on the web?"

You have exactly 15ms to complete your response ... Go. Rick Lehrbaum writes "Victor Yodaiken, creator of RTLinux, has provided a brief statement about MontaVista Software's recent announcement of a hard real-time Linux (MontaVista, it should be noted, supports both RTLinux and the new kernel preemption technology.) In his response, Yodaiken draws significant distinctions between the architectural approaches taken by each (RTLinux; kernel preemptability), provides a technical perspective on the usefulness of each, and mentions some issues that need to be considered in proceeding along a kernel preemption path (which he does *not* summarily dismiss). Yodaiken claims that under RTLinux, "real-time software can communicate with Linux through fifos, shared memory, or signals but still gets hardware speed interrupt latencies, RTLinux worst case interrupt latencies are 15 microseconds on a generic x86 and better on PowerPC and Alphas." Additional detailed background on RTLinux appears in this interesting interview with Yodaiken (including info about "the infamous RTLinux patent")."

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Slashback: Sex, Pork, Chains

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  • Please read the original before a hundred people misquote it. Why aren't moderators catching this? The fact is that Amazon admits to mispricing on a small number of their total 4.7 million prices. Sounds fair to me, given the fact that anyone who is selling that many things is never going to get my business because the threshhold for decent human interactions decreases dramatically after 1.2 million items sold... :-)

    Also, the point that Amazon is probably not scamming, that they have the right to set whatever price they want--it is us who choose whether to buy--is valid. The original fact is useful, but is not itself an indicator of whether Amazon is evil and tyrannical like, say, MicroSoft or WalMart which use their power to buy competition outright to define the market, that being a whole 'nuther issue.

    -Water Paradox

  • We'll after Stallman's condescending "we have GNOME anyway" flamebait, he really got it from the Linux community:

    Mob Attacks Stallman []

    Good to know the Linux community defends its own and doesn't worship the GNU so blindly. Anyway, it's good to see this nice diplomatic response for Stallman, it does seem to clear the air.

  • by sillysally ( 193936 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:47PM (#784362)
    Why does what they are charging other people even come into the equation?

    because it is information about the producers pricing function that you didn't have before.

    Is a certain item that worth say, $15.49 to you, suddenly become worth only $14.49 to you because they are selling it to someone else for that much?

    well, this is sort of obvious: people want the lowest price they can get. Duh. In Econ101 this concept is expressed as "consumer surplus".

    • If I would pay $30 for something, but I can get it for $20, I'm in a sense $10 worth of happy. The integral of all of the consumers and how extra happy they are is called the "consumer surplus", and it directly measures half of what is so good about free markets.
    • The other half applies to sellers. If they would sell it for $10, but they can get $20, the producer surplus would be said to be $10 also.
    • (BTW, The exact same math applies to controlled markets, but if the price or quantity deviates from the "market clearing price" the total size of the surpluses comes out less than maximum. This is why it is wrong for the government to "fix" the price of oil during shortages... overall happiness goes down.)

    If a seller can determine exactly how much you are willing to pay and "price discriminate" to single you out, they can turn your surplus into their surplus. This keeps the overall "happiness" (economists call it "utility") the same, but it will also lead to your being less happy, and that's what we may be seeing here.

    I say may be because people are making the assumption that the low price is "right" price and the high one is the "wrong" one. What Amazon may be trying to do is not figure out how much each individual will pay, but they may be trying to figure out what the average price should be, by experimenting with different random prices. Probably they are lying though, IMHO, and trying to screw each person on an individual basis. It fits in with some of the other stuff they've done, the one-click patent, changing the terms of the privacy agreement, etc.

  • I worked in retail

    Whoa - there's some qualifications. Would you like fries with that?

    It's not an offer. If it were an offer and a customer accepted then it's a done deal. An offer is a very specific thing.


  • Actually they are doing because the TAX is too high.

    They don't want the gov to fix the price. They just want the gov to take less, i.e. stop fixing the price (in the UK the gov claim that the price is high in a effort to make(force) people to be greener)
  • In Amazon's defense, I have heard tales of items being legitimately mispriced--such as a Jet Li box set going for $17 instead of the $85 it was supposed to, or someone's hardcover book being mistakenly sold at the paperback price.

    That being said, I've found an online bookseller that seems to have consistently better prices than Amazon's, if not all the bells and whistles: [].

  • ...the point that Amazon is probably not scamming, that they have the right to set whatever price they want--it is us who choose whether to buy--is valid

    I don't think most people are argueing that Amazon shouldn't be allowed to do this. I think the issue is that Amazon is using their superior access to information to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, who assumed prices were standardized. In order for those consumers to get the best deal, they must also acquire superior information. Most importantly they need to become aware that Amazon is doing this, and then must understand their options for dealing with it (price shopping services, etc.)

    Some people will certainly find value in dealing with a retailer who they can rely on to provide good recommendations, prompt shipping etc., even if their price isn't always the best. For these people, the best option may be to shop at Amazon. Other people will always try to find the best price and/or will resent being played for a sucker. For these people, the best option may be to avoid Amazon.

  • Wrong.

    A shop can charge whatever they like for any product on a case by case basis.

    Otherwise, shops which have some items at a sale price and others of the same item on full price would be prosecuted.
  • I wouldn't say that wish lists are an innovation. They are merely see that people are willing to provide that info online for everyday items. In practice, its not different than a wedding registry at a department store ( the once collosal megastores compared to the general stores they replaced )
  • suppose one person has a total worth of $10 and another person has a total worth of $1,000,000. does it sound reasonable that gains of $10 each will add equally to their happiness?

    maybe i've misunderstood but this consumer surplus argument doesn't stand up for me. do they really teach this kind of stuff in college? i can barely believe it.
  • At least, that's the impression one gets reading a Slashdot editorial.

    So? What is your point? Do you agree or disagree?

    Also, I think you missed the point of the editorial: RMS has long been an Open Source advocate, from conviction, with astounding results. For that reason he has studied the legal issues surrounding licenses in detail, and because of that he has pointed out the difficulties inherent in KDE's use of the GPL in combination with closed source Qt. Now Qt has gone GPL, adn he says: Ok, fine, great, even, and to forestall future silly legal technicalities, I declare on behalf of the FSF, that all past (technical) violations of the GPL on FSF sources are forgiven, and that the KDE folk can proceed as if they never happened. With our blessing.

    The hostile KDE reaction [] to this completely baffled me. Had they not read the article? Don't they see, RMS has a point where he saw legal problems with their licenses? Don't they see the article said: 'Let's put that behind us now'? Have they lost all reason?

    And what replies RMS? Another very calm and dignified response, seeking reconciliation rather than a bare-fisted mud-slinging match. He has stepped over the legal difficulties and taken the fight back to the code, where it belongs. And that is, what prompted the editorial, I'd guess.

    It takes a lot of brains to enjoy satire, humor and wit-

  • which still just means that you can dick with it until you get a lower price...

  • oh please.. a merchant has a right to charge every customer as much as that customer will pay for an item. The "price tag" has been so detrimental to the world of commerce. It works both ways too. Just try going into your local store and talking the shop keeper down. This used to be an honest part of the purchase (and in many cultures - including subcultures - still is) but now is considered taboo.
  • ok, so now u see why i was a "grammer" nazi for a day....i got fired, they found out i cant spell for shit

    But still there is a difference between -milli and -micro as was my original point regardless.

  • Finally, at any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the more than 4.7 million items on our site may be mispriced.

    Marketing to PR: you mean our price discrimination [] still isn't perfect on some of our items? How are we supposed to max []^H^H^Heliminate deadweight loss [] if we aren't charging each customer the right price?


  • True, but I think the issue may be more a matter of how they're doing their "research", if that's what it really is. I mean, I understand companies have to make money, and prices are a dynamic thing--supply, demand, and how much people are willing to pay are all, of course, important factors in why companies charge what they do. However, if they want to determine what consumers are willing to pay, I'd much rather take a survey, for example, than be charged $5 (and arbitrary number, I'm not claiming that's what they're charging) more for a product they're willing to sell someone else for regular price. If they're willing to take the risk of changing their prices for a while to see if people are willing to pay and possibly losing money, that's one thing, but to isolate me and say "well, he really can't tell if this is what we are actually charging, let's see if he'll get it," is just a bit more sneaky than I'd like to deal with. In a sense, they'd be charging me to do their research quietly for them. Sounds like a pretty unfair deal to me.

    And another thing (slightly veering from the topic at hand), if they were simply mis-priced, is Amazon willing to refund those whose purchases were "accidentally" priced higher? If you're conducting market research and you're trying to keep it on the down-low, that's one thing, but once you're caught, you should at least be able to admit it. (I realize that saying you're changing prices interferes with the results of the "what people are willing to pay" test, but it's not like people don't know something's going on now anyways. Would it do Milli Vanilli and good to claim now that they really were singing? :-))

    **DISCLAIMER: I don't actually shop Amazon, all hypothesis contained herein are based of theoretical and hypothetical conclusions. :-)**
  • And he made those comments WHILE announcing that Qt was now under the GPL....

  • Technically speaking, I believe that would be discriminatory, not anti-competitive. And unless it's based on some unchangeable factor about you, it's legal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was searching for some titles on Bibliofind [] the other day. Coincidentally, they're owned by Amazon. I instructed my browser not to allow cookies from the site, and I was disappointed to find that a few titles had disappeared since I last searched for them on Bibliofind. I then enabled cookies and returned to the site. Lo and behold, the lost titles were miraculously found.
  • How do you deal with supply and demand when a supply is limitless? (ie with digital media)

    Supply of digital media is limitless? No, silly. First of all, duplication and distribution of digital media incurs (possibly small but still) finite costs. More importantly, you're neglecting the cost of creating the media in the first place. By "digital media" you mean software, images, music, text, etc; correct? I can't imagine how creating these things will ever be free, and so their supply will be limited. That's why, though it costs nearly nothing to copy Adobe Photoshop, the software engineers on its dev team get paid such hefty salaries.

    Mabe once the consumer catches up to business and joins the online hallucination that removes time adn space from our reality.

    Oh, I see, this is a joke? Or you are stoned? Or both? Hope I haven't just wasted my time. Whatever.

    If you're not wasted, the day is.

  • Speaking of digging ditches, check out the shopping cart at [] These guys actually make you calculate your own tax and everything, for each item separately before you purchase!
  • if the whole cookie-sensitive pricing thing is
    just an attempt by these sites to 'train' users to buy first, ask questions later. It's well known that they all hate the 'lost shopping cart' effect, and need to drive that figure down for Wall Street.

    I've notice the same thing when buying airline tickets from a variety of places, FWIW.

  • yeah... it's sort of like the priceline group purchasing model applied in reverse.

    "Well, this is how much it costs. Are you willing to pay?"
    If yes, set sucker=True
    If sucker==True, set cost_multiplier=1.25

    Do not rinse. Repeat as necessary.

  • I'm not supporting Amazon ( and I'm not going to cane them either), however it only say that a few of the prices are wrong NOT the whole 4.7 million items!! I think we need to see if this is happening regularly and accross the board..
  • "Computers don't make mistakes." Obviously you have never dealt with a computer with a bad DRAM chip ;) Its was just flaky enough to make life real interesting.
  • Do these free market models account for all the secondary effects putting pressure on economics?

    No, they don't. But they do tell us the best way to minimize how fed up the average Joe gets. The problem with something like OPEC raising oil prices is that it does impose pain on people, and there is no avoiding it. It is important not to take measures which impose even more pain which is what governments did in the 70s, and European governments are prone to do today. Give the average Joe stuff to keep him happy, but keep the price of oil high. If things get really out of hand, whip up nationalistic fervor directed toward the OPEC countries. Cartels are immoral anyway, IMHO.

    What we are seeing in europe is that people don't take the "healthy economy makes for happy citizens" rethoric no more.

    Europe does not have a healthy economy. They have fairly high unemployment because they pursue policies that generate it, but these programs are popular despite the fact that they generate the problems. The only way to get out of the mess is to educate people about economics.

  • you've been to college, Troller dude, because there's no way you would come up with that argument on your own. At one time I think it was part of a Nobel prize.

    But you are remembering it slightly wrong. It is true that there is a declining marginal utility of wealth, meaning that as you go from 10 to 1,000,000 the additional 10 each time is worth less to you. This is the basis of the widely known concept of being "risk averse". We don't like taking risks because a loss of 10 is more painful than a gain of 10 is good. But, there is no way to compare how much I value $10 at compared to how much you do. A greedy motherfucker like Bill Gates undoubtedly values $1 more than either of us does.

    However, since utility is measured in monetary units, it is guaranteed to be linear. If you save 10 bucks on a book, you have 10 bucks in your pocket. You may not value it as much as the first 10 bucks you ever saved, but its effect on the economy is going to be the same as any other 10 bucks.

  • You have exactly 15ms to complete your response ... Go.

    Ummmm... last I checked, "ms" denoted "milliseconds". For microseconds, you have to use "um" in text, unless you can somehow get a lower-cased Greek letter Mu to show up in front of the "s". THAT is microseconds.

    Of course, they may as well be the same thing relative to human response times... :)

  • 1 A deeper academic knowledge in the field of economics
    2 Increased marketability of goods to consumers
    3 Increased corporate revenues

    how is increased revenue only ranked number 3. a corporation, by definition is concerned with only one thing--its bottom line. number 2 only has value as it is concerned with number 3, and similar with 1, which, unless it does relate to number 3, has no value whatsoever. by law, a corporation which does not maximize its profits is ripping off its shareholders, so unless this practice in some way can be used to increase revenue it has no value.
  • Mispriced? Huh? Prices that dynamically change as you reload, or when you clear cookies, or change browser is not a mistake! Duh! Unless it is a bug in their software, this price fluctuating is intentional. What, do they have a group of monkeys, randomly changing prices so that when users reload the prices have changed? Bollocks. This is not an accident.
  • Looks like Trolltech is showing two prices for Qt!

    This one costs $1550: oducts/purchase/pricing.html []

    and this one's free: /sharecontrib/ []

    Those bastards! I bet RMS is really pissed now!
  • Well, then, how about when you walk up to a movie theatre box office and pay $7.50, when the senior citizen behind you pays $5.00? Same thing, no? It's all about capturing what economists refer to as the "consumer surplus" []. Basically, the movie theatre charges you more because they perceive that you are likely to be willing to pay more. Brick and mortar businesses have been going after the consumer surplus for ages, and so it's only reasonable to expect online business to do the same.

    What's interesting about these little pricing games is that we internet users have been sticking it to the online businesses for a while now. Armed with (nearly) perfect information about the marketplace we have forced them to give up the premiums that businesses have traditionally been able to charge for better location, better advertising, and the like, resulting in a huge consumer surplus. Now, it looks like businesses are finally learning how to use the unique characteristics of the net to their advantage, and they're starting to win back some of that consumer surplus. For all the talk about how the rules of business have changed in the digital age, it looks as if the game may be fundamentally the same, once everyone learns how to play under the modified rules.


  • I wrote the same damned comment except that being in the metro-Boston area I used the Yankees as the "other team" and not the Orioles.

    I got moderated as "troll."

    I'd say the parent could be "flamebait" to anyone from the Boston area. But I'd expect to hemorage karma if I moderated it as such.

    BTW, why do you lose karma on "bad" moderations but don't gain any on "good?" Seems to me that it should work both ways...

  • Amen. The bottom line is that in the end, you and only you decide what you buy and how much you pay for it. If you agree with the price and terms, buy. If not, don't. If you thought $400 was a fair price, and that $500 isn't, just don't pay it. Simple as that!
  • Although shouldn't it be copyright law, rather than RMS, that dictates what is and is not a derivative work?

    Copyright law doesn't really recognize the sort of derivative work that RMS was trying to encourage, though - normally you can't take someone else's book and fix typos, add footnotes, or move chapters around and then publish it yourself. The GPL was written to extend copyright into "copyleft" to add those specific permissions. As fast as the computer industry moves, it probably would not be possible to keep the body of copyright law up-to-date with the latest developments in the software industry anyway. Plus, what if the BSD licensors wanted to use a different definition of "derived"?

    What if Microsoft slipped something into the Windows EULA saying that all programs that call the windows DLLs are derivative of those DLLs, and thus royalties must be paid to Microsoft for the distribution of the "derived" work?

    Well, if the GPL really is legally enforceable (still untested), then maybe Microsoft could do just that. IANAL, though, and the "derivative work" section of the GPL is the part that I understand least, though. In thinking about it, perhaps I understand it least because it's the most vague - I was looking around on for some more in-depth information about exactly what the boundaries of derivative works are, and there doesn't seem to be any. Is the whole "libraries are derived works" thing an edict straight from RMS, or is there some documented background for it?

  • If the price can be modified by cookies, wouldn't this pose some form of security risk? Cookies are supposed to be secure from other people viewing them, but wouldn't it be possible to defraud them, if one were to figure out how it worked?
  • Consumers being charged a *minimum* price per good would be more realistic. Expecting this price to be >= the present price would be even more realistic.

    Were there a single company selling goods, this would be true. But when there are many (not a few--oligopolies have problems similar to monopolies), the effect of competition means that each customer can find prices within the range he is willing to pay and each seller can find prices within the range he is willing to pay. No, you'll never get the minimum you wish to pay because the minimum is $0.00! But you will prob. not have to pay the maximum either.

    In a traditional haggling-based market the effect is even more pronounced. Fixed prices make the market much less elastic. The magic words `I can get this for less at Joe's' can work wonders.

  • A dynamically-linked library by itself may not be a derivative work, but if your program depends in large part on functionality provided by a FSF-provided library, how can you really say the ultimate operation of your program is not a derivative of the FSF's work?

    I agree that it gets hazy, though - is a request through the dynamic loader for services significantly different from a request through a network socket (especially considering that most CORBA requests will be served by the local machine)? The defining line that RMS has chosen to defend the GPL at seems to be the boundaries of one process or thread of execution. This boundary is already invisible to the user and will become progressively moreso to developers as component architectures replace monolithic applications (including those that use dynamic library linking).

  • But this isn't the same as what Amazon is doing. As you say yourself, mailorder places check your account number for discounts. They don't jack up the price above list if you've expressed (unknowingly) in the past that you will pay higher prices. A discount is nothing but a sales pitch, an advertisement. It is a way to draw customers in, by saying, "The more you spend, the more you save!"

    Amazon isn't pitching sales, though. They jack the price around at random (or based on your past history of buying things with randomly-jacked prices) to determine the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay.

    That's perfectly understandable. After all, as consumers, don't we all look for the best price? Still, it annoys me, but I'll always check other sites for the same product. If Amazon is more expensive, I don't buy from them.

    I do not belong in the domain.

  • Does this surprise anyone? Of course they're going to claim that "4.7 million items are accidently mispriced." They're not going to say, "that's right, we've been fucking with you all along, muahahha! And that extra money that we make on some of you, goes straight to our friends in the patent office. Muahahaha"
  • for instance, "forgiveness" is certainly a loaded word.

    Just like "piracy" and "free" - it seems like the simplest terms arouse the most heated discussions around here :)

  • I worked as a programmer at for a while, and I can tell you that:

    1. Yes, their software is incredibly buggy. You'd be amazed. Really.

    2. They routinely serve different pages to
    a randomly selected fraction of customers in
    order to measure customer response to various things. This is a matter of public record, and it comes up pretty often-- I think the last time I saw it was when they market-tested their "tabless" interface.

    When these pricing discrepencies have come up in the past, amazon was pretty up-front about it, stating that the testing was random and therefore non-discriminatory. Whether or not you believe them is up to you. If you doubt them, I think you could set up a system to collect evidence of discrimination with a fairly small amount of effort.
  • According to this ( analysis of his name, Tjisana has quite a bit more to worry about than being refered to as female......

    Without the encouragement of others, you lack the energy, confidence, or initiative required to bring an idea to fruition. This name creates weaknesses in the fluids of the body, kidneys, or glandular system.

  • If they start using a costing by cookie method, how difficult would it be to set up a site that people could go to and download the "correct" cookie? With the plethora of people around, it wouldn't be too difficult to keep a near real-time record of who's doing what, and what the best cookies are.

  • "Finally, at any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the more than 4.7 million items on our site may be mispriced."

    What does this have to do with cookie-based price differentiation? The above is true regardless of whether they are charging different prices to different customers. And the above statement clearly does not explain the cookie-based price game Amazon is trying to play.

    In a completely unrelated story [] , Amazon was caught with prices that were too low, and they tried to explain the mistake to the customers for the purpose of charging full price. This has nothing to do with the cookie-pricing.

    Unless I missed something, there are two completely separate issues here. Hmm. I thought slashback was where we checked the facts and presented corrected information.

  • Because it's a fundamental part of all the rhetoric supporting capitalism? The free market will always be good for consumers because unfettered competition keeps prices at the market clearing price, giving neither the seller or buyer an advantage. This happens best with commodities, where goods of the same type may be easily substituted, but still occurs with any kind of product.

    Now, this can only occur when pricing information is easily attainable. And for the most part, vendors are very eager to tell your their low low prices in order to compete. A thrifty consumer will always check prices from different vendors before buying anything. This is where the credibility of your argument lies.

    Now guess what? All that could change due to the current legal climate. Never before has price gathering been so easy, as robots can be sent scouring the net getting the latest deals, whether the vendor likes it or not. And eBay has already sued and won to prevent a company from doing this on their servers. There argument wasn't just about putting load on their servers, they considered it tresspassing.

    In addition, there are laws and treaties in the works to give databases of facts copyright protection. Guess what a price list is?

    A vendor can kick you out of a store if it sees you gathering prices, but they can't take the price list away. You can't mirror Pricewatch, but you can distribute prices gathered off of it. That could all change. Pretty soon you may have to agree to a click-through NDA to even enter a web-based store.

    All the glorious efficiency promised by the "e-commerce" revolution could turn into a giant scam for the conglomerates, using demographic data to milk every consumer for as much as he or she will tolerate. And we won't be able to fight back, even though technology could give us some pretty sophisticated tools, because we'd be breaking various laws to do it. Just like now, where it perfectly legal to export DVDs, but illegal to crack the region coding on the DVDs that would make doing so worthwhile.
  • The hostile KDE reaction to this completely baffled me. Had they not read the article? Don't they see, RMS has a point where he saw legal problems with their licenses? Don't they see the article said: 'Let's put that behind us now'? Have they lost all reason?

    It's quite simple really. They--rightly or wrongly--never recognised Stallman as having a valid complaint. Thus his point is (in their view) invalid and his forgiveness unneeded at best and pompous at worst.

    I hereby forgive the Aleuts for stealing my chocolate chip cookies, and extend to you personnally my forgiveness for burning my bushes.

    Only prob. is, if you and the Aleuts have never done those things, my forgiveness is a bit presumptuous and silly. Likewise, if one does not accept Stallman's premises--among which is that dynamic linking is creating a derivative work; beware this as it could bite us--then one need not accept his conclusions.

    My own take on it is that while I love the GPL--I release my work under it where I can--I do not believe that it reaches as far as the FSF thinks. If we let it do that then we must let those godawful EULAs reach as far as they like too. Nein dankeschön.

  • Um, "us".
  • No you couldn't direct them to change the price....all the cookie does is tell [the] server which price to serve up to you.

    You contradict yourself. :-)
    The point is that with enough knowledge you might be able to alter your cookie to receive the best of the available prices.


  • Although shouldn't it be copyright law, rather than RMS, that dictates what is and is not a derivative work? What if Microsoft slipped something into the Windows EULA saying that all programs that call the windows DLLs are derivative of those DLLs, and thus royalties must be paid to Microsoft for the distribution of the "derived" work?

    The reason that it is RMS that decides what is and what isn't a derivative work under the GPL is that RMS wrote the GPL and has the power to change it.

    To further use your example, Microsoft probably could change the license to Windows so that developers would have to pay a royalty for linking their DLLs. They won't do this because coercing developers into using basing their code on Microsoft DLLs is central to Microsoft's business plan, but Microsoft could change the license on their next round of software so that linking their libraries required royalties. There are plenty of other companies that charge you for the privilege of linking against their libraries.

    Something to think about.

  • Something missing from the /back is that there is a review [] of the SoundsGood MP3 player for the Handspring Visor now.
    James Hromadka
  • ...or should that subject be "trapped, in america, in a Suburban"?

    While I'd like to pretend I'm willing to support policies that are financially generous, ecologically healthy, and conducive to general liberty -- all great things in their own right -- today i need to get to the grocery store for food, the hardware store to buy parts to fix a faulty tub drain, the bank to discuss taking out a lower-interest loan to funnel into paying my high-interest student-loan, the elementary school to pick up my kids, the post office to ship a care package to out-of-state sick gramma, to the dentist to have an old bridge replaced, plus, of course i need to get to work so i can afford all of the above...
    and this is only tuesday.

    I don't think sillysally is referring to emotional "happiness", but rather a concept of relative advantage that both buyers and sellers can sometimes experience in a free market.
    While you are correct that we would all like to pay less for our dirty-burning, lung-tumoring, military/religious dictatorship-supporting petroproducts, there is no evidence to show that people are, in fact, consuming less gas due to price increases.

    The Suburban Sprawl of the last few decades = necessity of cars = necessity for fuel = generally guaranteed constant demand for gasoline regardless of price fluctuations.

    the problem with teens is they're looking for certainties.
  • Interesting conundrum. I would say that the users have committed no violations. The GPL only governs how you may distribute binaries generated from GPL'd source code. So perhaps the users who have installed your closed Gtk+ clone could no longer redistribute their Gnome installs? It is a very good question.

  • Read again--I made no such claim. It was *I* who wished that Troll Tech would release under the LGPL rather than the GPL. I never said that Troll Tech wanted or wished that they could release Qt under the LGPL. By releasing under the GPL rather than the LGPL, they've just made things more difficult for folks who might choose to release software based on Free QT--LGPL makes some of those licensing difficulties magically melt away.

    Perhaps the Troll Tech crew is hoping to derive code out of Qt later for use in a non-library. The LGPL won't allow that (check out the LGPL--derived works *must* be a library AFAIK). If that's the case then, well, OK.
  • That was well written.

    I think the reality is that Amazon keeps gushing red ink, and they've begun to look for some magic invisible formula to rescue them. IMHO this is one more piece of evidence that Amazon is careening towards failure.

    If Amazon fails I don't think it bodes well for ecommerce in general, because Amazon makes it incredibly easy to spend money. Every time I buy something they point out several similar things. Almost always there's one that interests me enough to buy that, too. This trail usually goes several ply before petering out. If despite that they're losing their ass, how the hell is anybody going to make money doing it?


  • Oh yeah. Heh-heh... "us", not "um". Sincere apologies.
  • They are not doing it because the government won't fix prices, they are doing it because prices are too high.

    They believe that price fixing is the answer, and are really mad that it isn't being done, but that's not the reason for the action. If prices were low there certainly wouldn't be any massive call for price fixing.


  • I worked in a paint store... and we didn't have any fine print anywhere.

    I once worked in a fine print store, and we had fine print everywhere.


  • I can't remember if I've ever used the word "merits" more than once in a single week.

    Obviously you don't smoke, then.


  • What's illegal about their price discrimination? As long as they aren't discriminating based on a protected category (sex, age, race, etc..) they are more than free to charge you whatever they want.

    But that's just it - you don't know that they aren't discriminating against protected categories - according to them, it's just a bug. BTW, in the UK at least, I think that there is a law that if somebody offers you a sale at a certain (reasonable) price, they have to honour it, for instance, mislabelled goods at the supermarket. Any UK "IAALs" in here want to clarify if this applies to

  • by craw ( 6958 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @04:11PM (#784420) Homepage
    I think it must be something like what happened to John Bobbitt (aka Magic Johnson). You know the song.

    In the bedroom, the quiet bedroom, John Bobbitt sleeps tonight.
    In the kitchen, the quiet kitchen, Lorena grabs a knife.
    A wiener whack, a wiener whack, ...

  • There is a strong case to be made against cookie based pricing schemes. An equally strong case can be made in favor, however. This is the side I shall attempt to argue.

    The 3 major benefits which can be gained from these types of practices, in order of importance, are:
    1. A deeper academic knowledge in the field of economics
    2. Increased marketability of goods to consumers
    3. Increased corporate revenues

    Economics is a challenging science. It is not possible to validate economic theories in a laboratory; economists must, in a general sense, patiently analyze those situations presented to them by the normal course of civilization. Data gained from the price targetting of individual consumers could prove invaluable to academics. Think about how beneficial an understanding of the atomic structure of silicon has been to the electronics industry. This sort of information not only atomizes the consumer/supplier relationships, but also allows for, in a limited sense, the opportunity for quasi-ethical controlled econonomic experiments.

    I say "quasi-ethical" because dynamically changing a price does sound creepy. But is it truly any different, in principle, than what already occurs? Management and those who control prices are taught to understand the market; they know what groups buy what, and how changing the price of a good affects the quantity bought.
    It is my view that Amazon's techniques accomplish nothing more than customizing the "market" to a single person. Once that person's unique elasticity of demand for each object is known, the prices can be set accordingly. The result: no change in consumer's flow of payment, but an increase in the consumer's reward for that payment. I come to this conclusion based on this reasoning (which could be flawed :)
    1. Currently, each of us exists, in the price-setter's mind, within a defined and homogenized market category.
    2. This particular market's elasticity of demand is known, and the prices of goods are adjusted accordingly.
    3. Sometimes individuals are faced with a higher charge, for a certain good, than they can pay. This is because some wealthy individuals, who share the category, influence the perceived elasticity.
    4. The new system will exclude everyone else.
    5. Consumers will be charged a personalized maximum price per good.
    6. However, whereas we may pay a little more for one item, the cost of those items, which we were previously unable to afford, will now be within our price range.
    Obviously, we can only spend our income, and my logic does break down in extreme cases. (Gold plated Feraris will always be too expensive for me :) As an approximation, the above points should be valid, and they demonstrate how such strategies can actually benefit the consumer.

    Of course, corporations will gather a great deal more revenue by implementing individual prices. The knee-jerk reaction, "If it enriches corporations it must be bad," is only a reaction. Think about who pays your salary. Corporation's success cause econonic prosperity for all of us through the DOW, NASDAQ, lower inflation, and a generally higher standard of living (just think, more money for research!!)

    Most people, understandably, feel uncomfortable that they are being charged differently than their neighbor. I also have my doubts, but, by the same token, such a system does have merits, and the reluctance to investigate those merits is not healthy.
  • Sure he uses a TWM, but the fact he freaked out in a KDE-bash kind of points out (IMHO, at least) that he may not care about GNOME _that_ much, but he surely dislikes KDE.

    Perhaps Mr. Stallman doesn't care about GUIs and doesn't care about KDE or GNOME. But he _dislikes_ KDE, so that's what I'm trying to say.
  • Even though I'm an economics professor, I don't have time to jump into this whole thing right now (I need to finish some sl9ides for this afternoon's lecture). However, on this narrow point, you've hit on the reason for experimental economcis.

    Yes, economics is becoming actual science (in spite of the past. I'm as harsh a critic as annyone). We are now doing experiments to measure such willingness to pay. For example, a friend's dissertation randomly chose people from the phone book and wrote to them, asking them to participate in the experiment. It turns out that most are willing.

    At the experiment, each receives their payment ($50-$100), and is asked to bid on the various types of pork--regular, organically grown, grown with hormones, irradiated for safety, etc. He used a "second price" auction, in which the winner only pays as much as the second highest bid, which lets people bid their "true" valuation--you don't have to worry about overbidding in this scheme.

    The only cache with his work is that he lied to them. He got approval four years ago, but I don't think he'd get it today. The lie was small--all of the cuts were actually plain old pork chops rather than grown the way he claimed--but this just isn't tolerated. Psychologists have trouble running valid experiments because people know they're being lied to. We've taken a pretty hard line; ifyou're in an econ experiment, you can pretty much count on the truth. It's not just that we're altruists; we need to know tha *actual* responses; we gain nothing by lying (in his case, he saved a few bucks by not having the real meat).

    hawk, as an econ professor
  • Yes, be the first in your town to register at the hardware store. None of those frilly curtains, silly plates and the like. No, get *real* presents: power tools! Drills, saws, compressors.

    hawk, who always gives a cordless drill as a wedding present
  • Looking back over the article, I can see how he would view his talking about "forgiveness" as a request to others to also bury the hatchet. But by phrasing it the way he did - by not making it totally clear that he considered it to be Over, Kaput, End Of Story (he did say this, but it was slighty obusfucated), it looked like he was jabbing one more time.

    I use Gnome rather than KDE, so I don't have an axe to grind, but it seemed to me that RMS implied in the earlier editorial that it wouldn't be over until the KDE development team sought for and obtained forgiveness from all authors whose code had been used in violation of its given license.

    I think a better worded article would not have generated the responses he received. Had he spent more time dealing with the issue of past violations being sufficient to preclude use of code in perpetuity, he would have been able to call for developers to grant forgiveness as an act of embracing the changes that had been made and leading by example. Instead it looked like he was beating his own drum (look how nice I am) while continuing to withhold 'approval'.

  • I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

    > The reason that it is RMS that decides what is and what isn't a
    > derivative work under the GPL is that RMS wrote the GPL and has the
    > power to change it.

    no, No, NO! I keep hearing this, and it's 180 degrees from the truth.

    There are approximately five billion people whose opinions on the proper
    construction of the GPL get consdiered before RMS.

    ne of the most basic legal rules of construction is that documents are construed against their author. Another is that the party who worte it is absolutely not an authority on the meaning of the document. THat party had their chance, and his words mean what they say, not what he wants them to say, or later wishes that they said.

    Bottom line: RMS opinion on the meaning of the GPL carries absolutely no weight.

    hawk, esq.
  • Considering your additude is condescending, you seem to think that I don't understand this.

    In this case, why in the hell would I be pointing out the "2-bit amateur shopping cart" in the first place?

  • I had the unfortunate experience of being involved in retail for several years, mainly at Circuit City and Software Etc.

    All retail stores operate price zones. Software Etc had 3. Prices vary from region to region. The store in Baltimore's Inner Harbor had prices that were 15% to 20% more than the store in the burbs 30 minutes away.

    At Circuit City, not only were there price zones, but prices in each store changed up/down daily. Employees are in the store every morning before opening to draw up new tags. The prices were sometimes based on available inventory but the changes where mainly designed to test the waters on products to see what prices points moved products at acceptable levels in each store. Several times a week there were also price changes that when out in the middle of the day. You could buy a TV in the morning and come back after lunch and find it $20 more or less.

    This is exactly what Amazon is doing. They are not anti-christ of retail, they are just getting an unfair beating for doing exactly what every other retail store/chain is doing and has done since the dawn of time.
  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @04:26PM (#784445) Homepage
    I had the same thoughts when I first read that article yesterday. I get the impression, though, that RMS genuinely was trying to be friendly and conciliatory, but suffers from a total lack of social skills. Probably this new response should be interpreted as, "I apologize if people misunderstood what I wrote last week. I meant to applaud Troll Tech and to put to rest any lingering tensions between the FSF community and the Qt/KDE developers."

    Anyway, enough of this stuff. KDE 2 RC1 is now tagged and coming soon -- if people have pent-up energy, they can direct it into bug reports.


  • 1) You just imagine a hypothetical situation, draw your conclusions about Mr. Stallman's reaction and then want us to blame him about this reaction YOU imagined.

    2) You just conclude your license is better than the GPL to draw your wicked rationale. Better for whom? For you? Well, good luck with your license, but if you want to merge you code with a GPLed code, the author DID NOT WANT YOU TO USE YOUR CODE ON A NON-GPLED PROGRAM, so you can't still use your license. That's the author condition. He decided to do it. He decided to use the GPL. If you want an exception, that's ok, write to him. But you do want an exception for the entire sort of GNU-protected programs just because you feel your license is better? Then CONVINCE EVERYONE ABOUT IT and they will be changing their licenses. There's simply NO REASON TO GO AFTER RMS FOR THAT.

    My god, every time I see one of theses RMS-bashing articles I think the man can be considered a saint just for not getting mad at these accusations.

    Patola (Cláudio Sampaio) - Solvo IT
    SAIR GNU/Linux Certified

  • While you certainly present a valid point, but there seems to be a difference between the way traditional "brick-and-mortar" stores change their pricing and what Amazon is doing. True, stores change their prices on a regular basis, and they often want to charge more for products that are all ready popular. However, stores generally do this based on market trends or whatever they use, they do not change the prices for individual consumers. From what I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong, that's what Amazon is doing to cause all this fuss. They change the prices on individuals based on their buying habits. I don't think anybody expects Amazon, or any other company for that matter, to always charge the exact same price, however, most people don't like the idea that they're being charged more for something than the next person. I for one would be pretty upset if I walked into McDonalds and they decided to charge me $10 for a small order of fries just because I seemed extra-hungry. True, I could, and most likely would, just walk out, but, realistically, how many people are going to do boycott Amazon because of this? Will the average consumer even notice? I'm pretty sure that Amazon has more customers than just the slashdot crowd (I'm not saying that word doesn't get around, but I'm simplifying for the sake of argument :-)). Well, my rant-fuel is starting to run out, but I guess I've made my point, so I'll stop now, cuz I have a tendency to ramble and wander once I've said my piece. :-) Basically what I'm trying to say is: This probably isn't something we should just pass off as "oh, everyone else does it too, it's no biggie."
    Thanks for bothering to read my humble, and probably misinformed, opinion. Correct me as necessary (but please be gentle). :-)
  • Wow, that explains the high voice in that song then. I always wondered how they did that.
  • Ah yes, but RMS does have power to modify the GPL so that it means what he says. I don't, and neither do you. Sure, software released under previous versions of the GPL would still be available under the previous terms, but much (if not all) of the new development would come under the terms that RMS feels is most justified. This is because:

    1) Many people trust RMS when it comes to licensing issues.

    2) Many people agree with RMS when it comes to licensing issues.

    3) Much of the software that is released under the GPL has the FSF as the copyright holder.

    You are, of course, totally correct in your statements. And if we were talking about something static, like the purchase of some real estate, then RMS would have nothing more to say on the matter.

    However, software is not static. My ancient Slackware CDs are not getting any work done right now. The license on that software is almost completely irrelevant to me. What matters to me, and to most software consumers (whether they be developers or just end users) is the license of the current version of the software. And as we all know, that can change.

    If RMS changed the GPL so that it cleared up the dynamic linking ambiguity (and he does have that power), most current GPL develoers would use his new license. The anti-RMSes of the world could, I suppose, fork all of that GPL code and maintain it themselves under the old license, but they aren't very likely to do this. With some exceptions, of course. The Linux kernel proper would probably continue under the present version of the GPL. The FSF could still try the supposed violators of their old license (assuming they held the copyright), and they might even win. With a technical issue like this who knows what the judges would say. Even more importantly several big software companies might even side with the FSF (Microsoft would love to have code that dynamically links their DLLs become a derivative of their work).

    In other words, developers and companies that fail to fall in line with RMS's view of the GPL could very well be screwed. Eventually the GPL is probably going to change to clear up ambiguities, and those groups that are on the wrong side of the new GPL line will be caught out in the cold. They will no longer be able to share code with the many FSF GPLed programs, and that is why many of us do pay attention to what RMS thinks on the issue of GPL compliance.

  • He also said KDE contained code it shouldn't have and would've violated its license. According to RMS, that violation was clear to KDE's programmers and despite that they ignored it.

    Now suddenly he says he doesn't even know what type of code KDE contains and that we were the ones that misinterpreted what he wrote.

    RMS did not "suddenly" change what he said about anything. What he says here is that he doesn't know if KDE contains any FSF code or not. This is not a sudden change in position, he's never claimed it did! He did in the past quite correctly point out that it contained GPL'ed code, and that, lacking permission from the author, the KDE team was violating the GPL in using it the way they were.

    As for you being one of the ones misinterpretting what he wrote, that's probably not the case. You don't seem to have read it to begin with...


  • by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @04:38PM (#784466) Homepage
    Because it's illegal. Charging different prices to different people ... is considered anti-competive and is a BIG no-no ...

    Illegal? On my planet, it is not only legal, it's standard operating procedure. For instance, my people hold these things called "yard sales" where prices are negotiated based on the purchaser's willingness to pay and the seller's assessment of their ability to wheedle more money out of the purchaser. ;-)

    Seriously, I don't understand why everybody's upset about Amazon's pricing. At worst, they are just determining the price elasticity curve of the market. Remember that all book and CD prices are totally arbitrary anyway. For example, the non-recurring expenses for production of a twenty year old music album have been paid for. Amazon's sole recurring expense for a CD is fixed (and much smaller than $1). Yet Seargent Pepper's Lonley Hearts Club Band (Beatles) costs $11.99, while Lost In The Ozone (Command Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen) costs $9.97. Given identical marginal cost of production, why is the Beatles album 20% more expensive? Because that's what the market will bear.

    <slashdot>Come on, people. It ain't called the bazaar for nothing!</slashdot>

  • It's interesting that Yodaiken took such a sh*t kicking for implementing one of the first anti-patents [] of the Open Source era. Then, many months later, people go googley eyed about pretty much the same idea.
    Shoot first, ask questions later. Don't worry about the fact that the dead don't answer.
  • I think a lot of us really need to step back and take a look at what was said...

    A bit back I posted [] an article that, while not outright flaming, questioned RMS's ability to lead due to this and other incidents.

    Now, I'm not about to withdraw several other statements - I still don't think that he's definitely the ideal leader. But now it seems that he's actually going out of his way to make sure that what he meant to say is made certain. That is a Good Thing for someone in a leader's position to do, and it gives me a heck of a lot more confidence in him :).

    A bit of analysis as to why the misinterpretation may have happened:

    • He tried to recap what had happened before. This is a mistake considering that his only audience in this area is going to be folks who are already very familiar with the history. Reaquainting folks with past blows at a time when people have just made a great leap and expecting to see the war over for it ends up not looking like an objective review and more like an attempt to twist the knife One More Time.
    • He brought up details for final recovery WITHOUT specifically mentioning them as such in a clear manner. Looking back over the article, I can see how he would view his talking about "forgiveness" as a request to others to also bury the hatchet. But by phrasing it the way he did - by not making it totally clear that he considered it to be Over, Kaput, End Of Story (he did say this, but it was slighty obusfucated), it looked like he was jabbing one more time.

    The rest is really just compounded on those two points. In that light, "Go GNOMEs!" would easily be seen as a derisive jab instead of what it seems now to be intended as - a sort of good-natured "Okay, you folks are all right, we like ya, but we're 'still gonna getcha', heh heh, nudge nudge."

    Final verdict? The first article needed a few rewrites. But who knows; maybe RMS was too excited about the thought that KDE was finally going to be Totally Without Problems to review his material.

    And btw, no, I don't think that this is what the above poster seems to think it is - a "he's too good to mess up, so it's OUR fault" article. RMS does have a few issues with arrogance and tunnel vision - hell, anyone can - but that kind of arrogance is just a little beyond even him. :)

    -Jo Hunter

  • After all I have never bought any cookies online, in fact I have never bought any food products online (I barely buy food offline). I get my cookies from my (soon to be) mother-in-law for free. Therefore even if Amazon was changing the prices of cookies it didn't affect me at all.

    Oh wait, nevermind...

    Devil Ducky
  • by jailbrekr2 ( 139577 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:09PM (#784475) Homepage
    would it hang if you didn't respond after 15.4mS?

    If you don't get it, read the Metric Tonnes of Quickies.....
  • Cookies are only retrievable by the site that put them there - so if amazon is the one that cookied you in the first place, they'd be able to read it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cookies don't modify the price. They direct which of a set of PREESTABLISHED prices are picked. You can modify any cookie stored on your computer any time you want.
  • Although shouldn't it be copyright law, rather than RMS, that dictates what is and is not a derivative work?

    It already is. A lot of people either haven't read the GPL, or don't understand copyright law. The GPL states that it operates solely under copyright law. When it talks about "works based on the Program" and other derivations, it is meant solely in the sense of copyright.

    The issue of drawing the line at process boundaries is a practical matter of drawing the line between derivation (compile time linkage) and performance (runtime linkage). The line is very fuzzy, and I'm on the side that says the boundary should be narrower than the process, but I can still understand and sympathize with the other viewpoint.
  • or come clean and stop their illegal price discrimination

    What's illegal about their price discrimination? As long as they aren't discriminating based on a protected category (sex, age, race, etc..) they are more than free to charge you whatever they want.
  • He *could* do that, but a couple of things:

    1) what he could do has nothigng to do with the current status of code. It is no basis for interpretation of the current license.

    2) I'm not sure that there would be a massive move to a radical change like that. It wouldn't just be the anti-RMS crowd that would balk. Rather, I expect large portions of the folks outside of the Church of Emacs wouldn't use the new version. Many projects used the GPL pretty much by default (LyX and KDE come to mind), and would not have done so with more thought and a fuller understanding of the license. It's not worth the effort that it would take these projects to change licenses, but that doesn't mean that they would blithely move towards a new license.

    Hm, now that I'm thinking of it, it's not clear that GPL'd code could automatically be used under a revised GPL that takes away the freedom to dynamically link--but I won't commit to that until I"ve had a long time to mull it over . . .

    3) New projects would be less likely to use the GPL and more likely to use a freer license after such a change.

    hawk, esq.
  • Well said. I hadn't thought about the problems of mixing the current version of the GPL with possible new versions. I also agree that many projects would stick with the previous version of the GPL. The Linux kernel, LyX, KDE, and many others would almost certainly not switch.

    However, the GPL has a feature that makes it likely that many projects would switch to the newer version. GPL code, as we all know, is viral in nature, but more importantly it acts like a one way door. Code from less restricted licenses like the BSD style licenses can be borrowed freely by GPL coders, but GPL code can not be "borrowed" for BSD style projects without changing the whole project into a GPL style project. That means that all it takes is one talented zealot to complete hi-jack a project. One highly popular GPLed module in any less restricted project is all it takes.

    Not to mention the vast array of software controlled by the FSF. Gnome would almost certainly fall, and with it would go a fork of the new StarOffice code.

    Of course, if you are right and the current GPL would be incompatible with a new GPL then there might be some hope for the people that disagree with RMS. However, my guess is that this could very easily be decided by the case that happened to come up in court. RMS and Co. would simply have to wait and sue the right violator. This would assure them of having the upper hand.

    As for new projects not wanting to use the GPL I don't think that is likely to be the case either. If anything I see an acceleration towards the GPL, not away from it. Even just recently MySQL, StarOffice, and even QT have succumbed. Heck, RMS was able to convince TrollTech to do things his way by sheer force of will. Now the point of dynamic linking is moot when it comes to KDE. Besides, the GPL gives a definite advantage to corporations who release code as they can release the code under multiple licenses. Having the dynamic linking issue resolved only strengthens their case.

    It appears to me that RMS is going to have his cake and eat it too. Which is a pity, as a developer I must admit that the BSD style licenses have definite advantages.

  • Now suppose some third party wanted to combine some of my software with some other software covered by the GNU Public License. That third party notices that each of these two licenses insists that all the parts combined must be covered by itself

    I don't know about your imaginary PL, but the GPL does not insist this. but each licenses insists that you cannot change it over to the other. Now we have a problem.

    Nope. If your license is as you described ("the wording were a little different, but in essence, the license had exactly the same legal implications of the GPL"), then there's no problem. The GPL would only be incompatible with your license if your license did NOT have the same implications as the GPL. Even then, it would be compatible with the GPL unless it placed additional restrictions that the GPL does not. This is why the BSD license (sans advertising clause) is perfectly compatible with the GPL, despite being a different license with different legal implications.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it is always seemed to me that the GNU Public License exhibits an intolerance to even the slightest differences in philosophy.

    You are mistaken. Many license advocates on all sides of the issue display intolerance to even the slightest differences in philosophy (including the people who've obviously lied to you about what the GPL says, assuming you really believe the stuff you wrote above), but the GPL works quite well with any license that doesn't place additional restrictions. It is only intolerant towards licenses less free than it, and considering its detractors don't think its very free at all, that means it's only intolerant towards truly non-free stuff. Which is not a "slight difference" in philosophy, it's a huge chasm.

    Not that I think the GPL is perfect or anything. In fact, I'm rather more of a fan of the so-called "Lesser GPL" precisely because the GPL sucks for precisely the reasons that got KDE in trouble. You ought to be able to link to any damned library you like, just as you can code to any operating system you like, regardless of the "freeness" of the OS.

    But you don't advance your cause by repeating lies about the GPL to do it. You just provoke arguments where people point out that you're blowing smoke, and we all avoid talking about the real issues...


  • by pod ( 1103 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @04:54PM (#784504) Homepage
    Before this uninformed/misinformed post and ensuing discussion get moderated too far (oops! too late!) lets inject some reason into the thread.

    Unless your shopping cart was coded by a total moron, the price will never be stored in the cookie. Even more to the point, the products you have in your shopping cart will never be stored in the cookie.

    Your cookie is merely a ticket, an anonymous id if you will. A magic number. A security token. Get it yet?

    The cookie has an id value (key into a db or a hash of one, usually a 32 char guid) and the db on the server saves the actual shopping cart data and is pointed to by the cookie. See, if you have db laying around handily, it is actually much easier and more intuitive to save the shopping cart on the database. You can query it, run reports, etc... you just get more flexibility. Not to mention security.

    Only 2-bit amateur shopping carts would be susceptible to such a lame and trivial attack.

  • seems to me this comes down to an question of "Is Amazon a bunch of greedy assholes or bumbling idiots"

    Personally, either anwer makes me want to stay as far away as possible. *cough* firestone *cough*

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • TrollTech makes available an excellent OO toolkit. The KDE desktop is based on same.

    Many argue that QT is taking advantage of a free system to promote the non-free libraries.

    Eventually, the libraries are released until the QPL.

    Many whine that the developers in both the KDE/QT camps and the "opposing" GNOME camp are actually secret lovers, and it is the Linux Kommunity that causes all the outrage over the free/non-free issues.

    Legal use of QT, as a developer in a pro environment (software for sale) costs more than twice that of Visual C++ Pro and Win NT combined.

    Gnome advances much faster than many anticipated.

    HP, Sun, Compaq, Eazel all throw in their support for Gnome, probably intending for it to replace their aging CDE desktops.

    Shortly thereafter, Qt announces they will GPL their libraries, presumably a last ditch attempt at getting a share of the Linux future.

    Competition once again servers the consumer. In a short time, Qt (and therefore KDE) will be free. This certainly helps Gnome advocates sink their teeth into a quality C++ toolkit.

  • No it isn't. Please cite the law stating this. Car dealers, airlines, hotels, etc... do it all the time.
  • Actualy, you are right to be concerned about cookie modifications. Fortunately, they would only work in your favor. Depending on the site, you could modify the cookies on your drive to change the sale price quoted.
    If the cookies are coded right and you have the security set on your browser set to something reasonable, then you've got nothing to worry about.

  • by MWoody ( 222806 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:20PM (#784515)
    So, after a 'slashback', she's now a he?

  • They may say that in the fine print, but it is still not illegal to have differentiated pricing for different customers.

    Hell, I worked in a paint store for 4 years in college, and we had 5 or 6 different price schedules for the same item depending on who the customer was (retail, contractors, etc...) and we didn't have any fine print anywhere.
  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:30PM (#784517) Homepage Journal
    the criticism he recieved ... after he said "Making Qt available under the GPL makes it legal to take an existing GPL-covered program and adapt it to work with Qt."

    Uh, Timothy? Where have you been? The criticism was not directed at the statement you quoted. 99% of it was directed at his "forgiveness" and the remaining 1% directed at the "go GNOME" statement. I don't recall anyone bitching about Stallman's announcement of Qt under the GPL.
  • This is why the BSD license (sans advertising clause) is perfectly compatible with the GPL, despite being a different license with different legal implications.

    Think about it. The BSD license sans advertising clause as is considered to be compatible with the GPL is essentially public domain, and no license at all.

    However, the BSD license (even sans advertising clause) is not actually compatible with the GPL, because it requires that a copy of the BSD license be distributed with the software. This is an "additional restriction" that is not permitted by the letter of the GPL.

    Whatever Stallman says, or the official position of the FSF, the GPL demands absolute exclusivity. A copy of software can be under the GPL alone or not under the GPL at all, but it can't be simultaneously under the GPL and any other license that requires that further copies also be placed under that other license and the software contain notices to that effect (which is the defining characteristic of redistributable software licenses).

    No, for a license to be compatible with the GPL, it must contain a GPL-surrender, like the WxWindows license or the LGPL.

    Even assuming I'm wrong, answer me this: how, exactly, is a license which doesn't require source to be distributed with binaries, but does require the source to be placed under the same license (which gives full permission to redistribute, modify, and compile to everybody) if it is distributed, less free than the GPL?

    To me, this seems like a slight difference in philosophy which the GPL is intolerant of.

    Another example would be a GPL-like license, but requiring that full joint copyright permissions to all modifications be transferred to the originator (or, for that matter, that the modifications be placed in the public domain), so he can re-release it under any terms he later decides without having to hunt down. This would be in all practical ways identical to the GPL, except that if license incompatibilities later arised, the originator could fix it. But the GPL would not be tolerant of this slight difference in philosophy, either.

    The LGPL is almost as much of a pain in the butt: this kind of linking is okay, that kind isn't. That is why all my software goes into the public domain, the only "license" that really allows anyone to do anything with your work, except monopolize it and keep it from others.

    The truth is, it wouldn't be hard to duplicate GPL'd software for proprietary code. The code's right in front of you, it's easy to rewrite it (hell, it would probably be worth doing just to clean up the syntax and make it match your personal standards). Furthermore, anyone who made a minor effort to modify GPL'd code so that it appears to be an original work would succeed. The GPL is not enforceable against someone who knowingly sets out to break it and not get caught. If they make the court complaint "It looks suspiciously like our work" they could easily say, "Of course, we read their code, it was freely available for educational use. Naturally we would produce something similar. They don't own the methods they used, just the text that they typed."

    The question is, is it worthwhile to attack proprietary code producers and add a slight inconvenience to the process of making a proprietary variant of your work if it causes problems to people who honestly want to produce free software?

    Copyright law can't produce the protection the GPL was designed for in an enforceable way. The GPL is nothing but an inconvenience to everyone involved. It is just one more example of the ridiculous naivety and petulant idealism of the FSF, and there is no shortage of those.

  • The funny thing is, I interpreted Richard's pro-Gnome remarks as being along the lines of a sports fan supporting the home team. I mean, he lives in the Boston metro area so he is probably more likely to be pro-Red Sox than to root for the (ahem) obvously far cooler Baltimore Orioles.

    In other words, "Lighten up already, people."

    Messing with Free Software and Open Source and Linux is supposed to be *fun* and bring us all closer together, as opposed to the death - to - all - competitors rivalries that infest the commercial, closed source software world.

    I happen to prefer KDE and will probably never use emacs in my life, but that's no reason for me to get into bar fights just because some misguided clown thinks the New England Patriots belong in the same league as the Redskins. :)

    (Metaphors purposely mixed.)

    - Robin
  • by Redking ( 89329 ) <stevenw&redking,com> on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:36PM (#784535) Homepage Journal
    Amazon has taken its fair-share of heat on Slashdot. I remember that the uproar when Amazon patented "one-click shopping". IMHO, that was well deserved, but Amazon has invented new shopping "technologies" that I like.

    I definitely like the wish lists. It's easy to add stuff to my wish list and update it when I purchase something. Also, it's nice to be able to publish wish lists and read other's wish lists especially when you want to surprise a loved one with a gift. Also, I like the Amazon Purchase Circles. It's interesting to browse the Purchase Circles and find out what books the Microserfs are buying [].

    This latest instant price changing incident is perhaps the latest Amazon shopping innovation being tested. Brick and mortar stores change prices often and track their customer purchase habits with all the specialty card programs. Amazon just has the luxury of changing prices at "Internet speed" simply because they ARE the largest retail store on the Internet.

    This is a classic example of market manipulation and how the Internet is changing the ideals of traditional retail. If you don't like it, there are plenty of choices. Nobody is forcing you to purchase items at Amazon's prices. Everytime you purchase something on Amazon you do so at your own free will, at the price stated. If you don't like the price, then don't buy it. There are plenty of places to do some comparison shopping if you don't like Amazon. I use PriceScan [].

    Regarding the Amazon customer service, they are probably just doing some damage control. Amazon's main customer service center is in North Dakota and they're probably not up to speed on the plans at the Seattle headquarters. I take everything customer service says with a grain of salt.
  • Finally, at any given time, despite our best efforts, a small number of the more than 4.7 million items on our site may be mispriced.

    Read it again there boy-o.... They didn't say they mispriced 4.7 million items as many people seem to think they have... I see it specifically says a small number of there 4.7 million items... which generally means a fraction thereof..

    Now the small fraction... what is it? 0.1%? 0.5%? 1%? 2%?

    Even assuming a 0.1% error rate (which is pretty good for a big company like that... my company generally allows a 2% error rate...) thats 47000 products being mispriced...

    That also means that 1/1000 people get a mispriced item... which I suppose isn't all that great... but you have to give them credit... if they can keep there error rate to less than 1%, then they're doing better than alot of companys.

    People also have to remember that.. despite our greatest efforts... computers are only as smart as there programmers... and nobodys perfect. :)

    The worlds most popular, famous, and loved super hero...
    Just kidding :)
  • by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2000 @03:43PM (#784537)
    Price switching is nothing new. Most mail order firms have been doing this with catalogs for years. They will send one catalog to people who haven't bought anything in a few years, and another to people who have bought recently. Item numbers in the catalogs will then have a different prefix and higher prices for old customers. If you tell the people who take your order that you want the "new customer" price, they will often give you the lower price.

    Even more recently, I recieved a catalog that sold the same ornamental bird house in two areas of the same catalog, but for $10 more in one area of the catalog than in another.

    This is just another old marketing gimmick that made its way onto the net.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."