I stumbled on an interesting article titled “No Copyright. The Real Reason for Germany’s Industrial Expansion?” by Frank Thadeusz and I finally saw some of the factors that lead to the industrial revolution in Germany. How could the non-existence of copyright laws turn a country into an industrial giant.
It’s not hard for me to believe this as an open source enthusiast because it’s evident in the tools I use. Open source licensing has revolutionized the software industry once dominated by proprietary giants. Copyleft has made little software Davids kill the Goliaths and ascend the throne of market dominance. Apache, Linux, Android, PHP, MySQL are a few open source technologies that have made incredible achievements with only two stones and a sling.
I must therefore concluded that it’s not sufficient to justify a law by its direct consequences, we must also judge the law by it’s unintended consequences. The unintended consequences usually appear after a much longer period of time as is highlighted in the article mentioned and just as it has taken decades for Richard Stallman’s free software movement and copyleft licensing to blossom. However, these unintended consequences could sometimes prove that a law is counterproductive.
This saying summarizes it all, “By their fruits you will know them”.