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October 29, 2004
Boyle Responds to Epstein on Open Source Sustainability
James Boyle has a powerful rebuttal to Richard Epstein's provocative piece, "Why Open Source is Unsustainable." Following, a few intriguing snippets :
Boyle rebutting the notion that open source cannot last because it's an "idealistic community":
"[Legal] uncertainty is only part of the reason that Prof Epstein thinks that open source is unsustainable. His key criticism is that 'idealistic communes cannot last for the long haul.' Well, the Catholic Church is also a relatively idealistic institution, based on canonical texts that are subject to conflicting interpretations. It is doing pretty well so far."
Boyle arguing against the idea that open source isn't viable because you can't "cash out"
"People used to say that collaborative creation could never produce a quality product. That has been shown to be false. So now they say that collaborative creation cannot be sustained because the governance mechanisms will not survive the success of the project. Prof Epstein conjures up a 'central committee' from which insiders will be unable to cash out - a nice mixture of communist and capitalist metaphors. ...But so far as we can tell, those who are influential in the free software and open source governance communities (there is, alas, no 'central committee') feel that they are doing very well indeed. ...[T]he tradition of 'rough consensus and running code' seems to be proving itself empirically as a robust governance system."
The whole shebang here
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