Open Source Software Needs a Micro-Payment Program
May 27, 2016
Open source software is an excellent idea, because it allows programmers across the globe to share and contribute to the same project. It also creates a think tank like environment that can be applied (arguably) to any tech field. There is a downside to open source and creative commons software and that is it not a sustainable model. Open Source Everything For The 21st Century discusses the issue in their post about “Robert Steele: Should Open Source Code Have A PayPal Address & AON Sliding Scale Rate Sheet?”
The post explains that open source delivers an unclear message about how code is generated, it comes from the greater whole rather than a few people. It also is not sustainable, because people do need funds to survive as well as maintain the open source software. Fair Source is a reasonable solution: users are charged if the software is used at a company with fifteen or more employees, but it too is not sustainable.
Micro-payments, small payments of a few cents, might be the ultimate solution. Robert Steele wrote that:
“I see the need for bits of code to have embedded within them both a PayPalPayPal-like address able to handle micro-payments (fractions of a cent), and a CISCO-like Application Oriented Network (AON) rules and rate sheet that can be updated globally with financial-level latency (which is to say, instantly) and full transparency. Some standards should be set for payment scales, e.g. 10 employees, 100, 1000 and up; such that a package of code with X number of coders will automatically begin to generate PayPal payments to the individual coders when the package hits N use cases within Z organizational or network structures.”
Micro-payments are not a bad idea and it has occasionally been put into practice, but not very widespread. No one has really pioneered an effective system for it.
Steele is also an advocate for “…Internet access and individual access to code is a human right, devising new rules for a sharing economy in which code is a cost of doing business at a fractional level in comparison to legacy proprietary code — between 1% and 10% of what is paid now.”
It is the ideal version of the Internet, where people are able to make money from their content and creations, users’ privacy is maintained, and ethics is essential are respected. The current trouble with YouTube channels and copyright comes to mind as does stolen information sold on the Dark Web and the desire to eradicate online bullying.