What about the future?

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As seen previously, the new century has brought ample questions to the IP issues. The traditional model that was somewhat effective until the mid-XX century, gradually lost the grip and became increasingly irrelevant by the end of the century. However, what about the future?

Both in content and software, the tendencies will probably be the ones listed by Yochai Benkler:

  • Information production is inherently more suitable for nonmarket strategies than industrial production
  • Rapid spread of nonmarket production, widening base
  • Effective, large-scale cooperative efforts in peer production of information, knowledge, and culture


Software

I would predict that the bulk of mainstream software will move gradually to free licenses. GPL will continue its prevalence, with LGPL, BSD and X11/Apache licenses each filling their own niche. In general, some consolidation of free licenses will also happen - instead of the current 50-60 licenses there will be perhaps a dozen, but each one will have clearly distinct features.

Proprietary licensing a la Microsoft will not disappear, but will keep perhaps about 5-10% of the market - mostly in turnkey applications which are meant for very narrowly specialised, well-paid, non-IT professions (top designers, musicians, composers) who a) need very specific software, b) can afford expensive tools and c) will need handholding in everything not directly related to their profession. This will also raise the quality of proprietary support quite remarkably, the tragicomical anecdotes about telephone support will be a thing from the past. Customers will demand more quality for their money - or alternatively they will move to free solutions. Artificial customer binding mechanisms like DRM will be gone (possibly also outlawed by jurisdiction as counterproductive).


Non-software content

Non-software content will probably have a more varying picture than software. However, the Founders' Copyright by CC will gradually conquer the current, far too prolonged copyright method. The CC family of content licenses will be developed further and given better compliance with international acts and jurisdictions of different countries (as opposed to the relative US-centeredness of the current version). While the GNU FDL will develop further and lose some of its contradictions, CC will possibly prevail.