Who Paid Benjamin Franklin?
Reading the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, I learned that his attitude towards copyright and patent was very similar to the philosophy behind open source. He felt that inventors and authors should donate their work as a service to mankind. It should be an avocation, not a profession. When we consider the things he wrote and his many marvelous inventions, we can see that he practiced what he preached. Maybe that is why more than two hundred years later his picture is on our hundred dollar bill.
How many professional developers get to work on what they love? Those who work gratis during their unpaid hours do it as a labor of love. As suggested by Franklin it is their service to mankind. And it really isn't unpaid labor.
Skills are enhanced, including many that are marketable. The admiration and respect of ones peers is a form of payment. And we should not discount the satisfaction of unselfishly serving others. Besides, it's fun! Hardly anybody gets paid for their fun. On the contrary, the norm is to pay enormous sums for ones hobbies and pleasures.
Do college professors make big bucks from their publishing? Not generally. They do it for the prestige of being published. They do it to look better in the eyes of their employers and peers.
Finally, in answer to all those naysayers like Bill Gates who foolishly suppose that open source is a threat to the excellence and innovation of software, nonsense! Where proprietary software can actually do a better job, buyers will always be willing to pay the price. And if proprietary software can't do as well, the big commercial companies should be focusing on different projects. They should be busily creating new markets with some of that famous 'innovation' they keep bragging about.
Benjamin Franklin had it right. Bill Gates doesn't.