I recently read Eric von Hippel’s Democratizing Innovation. A quick read for this genre, and just another great example of how we can really take hold of this Copyright/Fair Use mess to benefit all. von Hippel, a Professor of Technological Innovation in the MIT Sloan School of Management, published this book a few years ago under a Creative Commons license, so you can freely download it from:http://web.mit.edu/evhippel/www/democ1.htm.
Whereas in many of my recent reads in this topic focus on popular media like music and movies, von Hippel does a great job showing how throughout business and consumerism, people ARE modifying content/products. He shared some research that showed 10-40% of all users of content modify it in some way. When you think of it, that’s close to half of all products sold receiving some type of modification.
As most of us know, many people modify content, not to generate illegal profits like the RIAA and MPAA would have you think, but for the fun or intrinsic value. When a proud parent puts a video of their 2 year old singing Taylor Swift, they are doing it not to earn any money (and really, who but the family will pay for that?), but because it’s cute. Is that version REALLY the one someone will drop 99 cents for at Amazon or iTunes? That’s just illogical.
He obviously spends some time on open source, and discusses the Apache web project in length. Apache is an interesting project, as it is open sourced, but the leading web server out there. Depending on which data, between 60 and 80% of web servers run Apache. Yes, people use it for its cost (free as in beer), but he investigates and discovers that many folks are willing to pay to have their specifications put into the code. Windows does not allow that, neither does Mac. There may be some flexibility, but not much.
Definitely a good read for those who visit sites like mine. You’re here because you either fully subscribe to the open movement or you would like to find out more. This book will give you a nice summary about the reasons why folks search out for open projects and want to modify them. It will also dispel some of the myths out there, like open sourcers will never pay for anything. Time and time, I have said, if it’s good, we’ll pay for it. We just want the freedom, that once we pay for it, we can modify it. Nothing more.