This is my response to a post on NewsForge about whether or not programmers will get less money with the GPL:
Remember. Your can fulfill ALL of your obligations to the GPL by simply providing them with source on the CD that is covered by the GPL. What this means:
* for consulting work, you get paid the same.
* if an industry group wants you to write an industry-specific application, you get paid the same.
* if you are selling boxed software, you basically will still get paid the same. Why?
a) noone will be able to download it until after people start buying it in the stores, since that's where the source code is.
b) the value of the software in the store is greater than the value of it in cyberspace. Why? Because of the salesperson who can help the user find the software they need.
c) people respect brand names. It's human nature. Build a good brand and your brand will sell at higher prices than the same product from other brands.
d) only offer support on the purchased product.
Doing so will also reduce your R&D time because you will have users who will send you patches for things they want, if they are skilled an interested enough.
Now, if you are overcharging for your product anyway, sure, the market will correct you. However, I wouldn't be proud to say I made a living extorting customers because they didn't have any alternatives.
Users want freedom. They are even willing to pay for it. Remember, a lot of new computer sales were made to young people so they could get a piece of the "free" music. They paid thousands of dollars to get "free" music. Think about that. The money isn't the problem - the freedom is.
Add to this that very, very few people in the U.S. consider piracy to be unethical, and you remove any reason why the GPL would reduce sales on products offered at a reasonable price.