Tim O’Reilly on OpenSource Publishing Models – Bricklin’s Software Garden

Dan Bricklin’s Software Garden series of podcasts on the legal aspects of open source and intellectual property are great, dense affairs with very smart people opining at length on the legal, moral, and practical issues surrounding IP, copyright, creative commons, and the other hot property issues of the day. Last night I listened to Dan talk with Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Press, publisher of the greatest library of technical titles ever.

O’Reilly made some very interesting insights, randomly, the one’s that stuck with me are:

  • The web itself is the greatest open source platform ever
  • The innovators don’t get rich — Tim Berners-Lee, Bricklin
  • Open source components don’t make tons of money, but data sets do, e.g. Navtech provides the street maps behind Google Maps and Mapquest. Amazon the best database of information about books. Google is built on opensource components, so is Amazon, but both make their business on the data, not the tools per se
  •  Piracy: yes, even books get pirated and O’Reilly’s titles especially. Tim doesn’t feel there’s a need to flip out over it though. He says a lot of the piracy happens in markets where the consumers couldn’t afford to buy the books anyway.
  • Audience police — O’Reilly gets tipped off to pirate activity by its users
  • The open economy pushes business growth.

I strongly recommend a listen to this one. Some good insights that explain a lot of the economic potential behind Open economics, the power of the niche, and how to be a for-profit in an open economy.

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