|From: Mike Pearlman
Date: Mon, Sep 11, 2000 11:37 PM
Subject: High-Tech Warranty Project -- Comment, P994413
1)I will attempt to offer some semi-random thoughts, in response to the Invitation to Comment for the upcoming Public Forum. The following represents only personal opinions and observations from a private citizen (me), and none of any third party, so take them with a smaller grain of salt. :)
Software Is Inangible
2) Software is intangible, since it requires a tangible carrier to exist. Software is only usable to the extent, and within the domain of, tangible property (hardware) that executes it, and tangible property that ineracts with it. Without hardware, software is inert math.
Software Is Subjective
3) Not only is software intangible, it is subjective in its construction, its design, and its installation. This allows software to be variable in its appearance and function, even between pieces of software designed to perform the same tasks.
Hardware vs. Software
4) Hardware is very tangible, but is still subjective in its design and, for personal computers, subjective in its installation. Together, coordinated hardware and software form a "platform" upon which we can use other software.
Source Code vs. Executable
5) "Source Code" ("Source") can be defined as quasi-linguistic, quasi-mathematical data, written to be converted by certain software into instructions for a given platform. I'll refer to these resulting instructions as "executables." Collectively, executables comprise what is commonly referred to as "software."
Software is Modifiable in Either Form
6) The difference between source and executable is that of perception: I can modify " Age = CurrentYear - BirthYear " much easier than I can "B0 F4 93 26 F4 95 34 F4 96 38," but only because I grew up speaking English.
7) However, when I know that "F4" denotes a variable, uniquely identified by the next two numbers, and "B0" means subtract the following two variables, and store the result in the third, the second version becomes quite readable. "B0 F4 93 26 F4 95 34 F4 96 38" turns into "Subtract Variable1 to Variable2 and store it in Variable3."
Software as Property
8) Since software can be changed, either by executable, or source code, to perform a different function, ownership of the individual copy is implied.
A Self-Satisfying Market?
9) The nature of computers, as applied to personal computers extends "personal [...] purposes", as used in Section 2301, into what is being considered the software "markets". Alternatively (and more accurate), the software "markets" have enveloped the scope of "personal [...] purposes." Any individual can create software on a personal computer, which may or may not compete with commercial or non-commercial software that performs the same function.
10) This is one of the single largest threats to the software "industries", the single largest driver to change in the "industries", the single largest driver for recent attempts to replace personal computers with information appliances, and probably the single largest driver behind UCITA: the "consumers" can "compete" with the "manufacturers," because demand for services in the "market" is self-satisfying. If the "consumers" are prevented from, or directly punished for, creating or modifying software function, or hardware configurations, the "manufacturers" with the most capital can dictate market terms to the "consumers," and other "manufacturers".
Other reasons for UCITA
11) Another threat to the software "industries," particularly "mass-market" software, is the freedom of information. There are few things worse for a company, than to have someone point out why their product is junk, and that the product cooked up in someone's basement last month is much better. There are several pieces of UCITA that appear to have been designed to address this issue.
12) Also, is a market really a market, if the supply is either 0, equivalent to demand, or surplus? I can make a copy of my software, and send it to anyone, anywhere. Not only can the "consumers" manufacture new software, they can distribute both new and existing software, for next to zero cost. It's scary stuff for people who confuse software with tangible goods.
13) Yet another threat: If a user of software has no valid reason to purchase a new version of that software, they won't. UCITA short-circuits that issue by recognizing software as "liscenced," not owned, thereby allowing "manufacturers" to dictate post-sale obligations to purchasers.
14) Then, consider the masses of ignorant people who confuse their PC with their TV. They provide electoral pressure against legislators, and can be easily fooled into thinking they'll be better off with UCITA.
Thank you for taking the time to read these comments, that I could put down in writing in time.