Microsoft Linux: Why one free software advocate wants it – phoey

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There is an enormous difference between a lawyer and a software developer: lawyers charge hourly rates for thier expertise as applied to a specific individual while a software developer charges per product license.

Each legal case is unique, and each individual that requires a lawyer has unique needs and will pay a lawyer _hourly_ to help them in court, prepare those documents, etc.  I cannot imagine standing in front of a judge and saying, “Well, I didn’t want to pay for a lawyer so I’m just going to reuse these free documents that somebody else paid for your honour;  not being a lawyer myself I hope they’re relevant.  I will now rest my case”.  Lawyers do not charge you to produce documents, they charge you for their time and expertise.  The documents are a byproduct of that.

Convsely, a software developer can write a single piece of software (like an OS, spreadsheet, etc) that can potentially be used by millions of people.  It can easily take 1000s of hours to develop a single non-trivial piece of software.  For example, I’ve been working (more than) full time on my own software for over a year and its only 3/4 done.  However thousands of different people will be able to use it, and I certainly won’t be charging them all per hour.  Developers do not charge you for thier time, they charge you for their finished product.  Our expertise allows us to create that product.

So while a lawyer might spend 100s of hours for a single client (charging by the hour), a developer can spend 1000s of hours for hundreds , thousands or millions of clients.   Thus, the correct analogy between a lawyer and a software develoer would be if a lawyer got paid once for the first case and then volunteered for the 1000s of people that had an even remotely similar case.

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