The Drug Market in Sports and Software

It's been long since I last wrote on my blog about Free Software, but it's about time to publish this idea I've been elaborating in my head (meaning not that I'm a philosopher, but that I don't have anything good to do while riding buses) to see what comments can I get from it.

No doubt there's a strong battle against the use of steroids and some other kinds of drugs in sports: from the MLB to the Olympic games, anyone that somehow follows sport news knows every once in a while someone gets a positive anti-doping test and a new scandal comes along.

But why is it that they hate steroids and drugs that much? Is it because it would make sports unfair since some of the players are doped and the rest are not? If so, then the easy solution to that problem is to dope them all. After all, steroids boost people's performance, and doping all the 22 players of a soccer game would probably mean we would watch better games, pretty much like Shaolin Soccer. But that's obviously not the way things are moving forward in sports (even though I consider that the list of approved drugs in some sports is quite long and getting longer).

In fact, the one reason to fight against drugs and steroids in sports are medical reasons: the more people take steroids to boost themselves, the more they harm themselves and consequences of the use of these kind of boosters will reach you unavoidably. Allowing free use of drugs and steroids in sports means sportsmen and sportswomen would end up destroying themselves because of the use of these, and that would actually mean the sport itself will eventually be destroyed.

So at this point you are surely wondering "what the fsck does anything here has to do with (Free) Software?". Well, think about one of the most common arguments in favor of Proprietary Software: People often consider that things like restrictive licenses and software patents allow for an easier way to get money out of the software business. And sure they do: if you could enforce each and every license payment and royalty payment from patents held by the big companies (i.e., if it wasn't for piracy), many millions of dollars would flow back to them and that could (and I'm not saying this is in fact the case) mean the software they provide would increase in quality and features. Even now that we have a very loosely monitored anti-piracy system, these companies in fact get lots of money from revenues created by licenses and absurd patents granted to them.

And that's actually cool, I think . Anyone that knows me knows that I'm mostly about the money, so any legitimate way of getting money sounds good to me... except for the fact that the model described above is not sustainable. It's not sustainable because the more you close technologies and the more you patent ideas, the harder it gets to create new ones, so eventually there wont' be a way to get money out of that model and moreover, there won't be any way to get any money from any model since the worst characteristic of this proprietary model is that it invades everything else (which is the reason why Free Software and Proprietary Software cannot coexist).

So next time you think about easy money through Proprietary Software, rethink about the future: Will your company last short enough to escape the big and general lock you are creating by supporting this model? Will your children be able to create any innovative and successful business after your model has patented every single idea that can sparkle new ideas?

If you want to read more about these topics, check out Software Patents.