Free beer recipe released under the Creative Commons
Sounds good to me.
But this raises some important questions in my mind. As much as I believe people should be allowed to take somebody else's creation an innovate on it, I also believe that people should be given a fair chance to profit from their own creation, else the motivation to create itself will be lost.
Where do we draw the line? If I invent something I feel I should be in a position to profit from it (right-wing). The law feels I should not be able to indefinitely profit from it (lefty law). Stallman would argue that I should not profit from the creation per se and instead make money distributing and consulting (left-wing).
The true economics of Stallman's model is hard to prove. And it carries a longer gestation period than the simple right-wing model.
Does it lead to more innovation -- no clear picture here either. Apple a company with a motive achieved more for GUI's on *nix than any open source effort.
GCC on the other hand sets a new standard for a portable compiler. Both ways work.
So what's the right thing to do? I guess we should leave the choice to the creator. What should the creator do?
In school, I used to be stingy about sharing things that I created/knew about. Whether it was code or the name of a good textbook I wouldn't let it out. By the time I entered college, I started sharing those things. It didn't make me poorer. But by that time, I had given up on the academic rat-race.
Maybe that's the problem - rat-races make people more selfish than they normally are? In a rat-race free world, would people give freely, at least that what does not make the giver poorer? When I think of it, I suppose that it does -- but the truth of the matter is we live in the world where, "I'm bigger/better/faster/richer/... than the rest of you" is a powerful motivator. Sport is about that too sometimes.
Sport actually provides and interesting example. When I play snooker (yes, I've moved on from pool) I can play to win or I can play to push my self to new limits. Playing to win depends on my opponent. If he's a push-over I manage to just about push him over. If my opponent is good, then I play well too. If I play to push myself to new limits I play well all the time. I've observed it personally. So in effect if I allow the rat-race concept to fade away and treat myself as the bar I play better on average.
Maybe that's what it is. People who struggle with self-belief tend to focus on their opponent, since it makes them feel better about themselves. People who are comfortable about themselves focus on the joy of doing the task at hand. It's a difference in mindset.
So what's the answer to the GPL vs. closed source debate? Closed-source might be better for people getting their feet wet. Gives them something to focus on until they hone their skill with the force. Once you are strong and confident -- that's when you can play for the sheer joy of playing the game.