Just a comment on this thread, in response to no one in particular....
It seems clear there are technological benefits to GCG users' having
the package documentation available via WWW, perhaps with access
limited to users at each licensed institution, or even possibly with
any licensed site free to give wide-open access to any and all comers
in the world (if in fact that were ever to be authorized by GCG).
But everyone thinking about this notion ought to keep in mind the
distinct possibility (I would go so far as to call it a *fact*) that,
if either type of increased access results in decreased revenue for
GCG in terms of manual sales lost, then GCG will raise their license
fees to make up the difference.
At our site we have several hundred on-and-off users of the GCG
package, out of which I would guess a score or two labs have been
buying their own GCG manuals for $150-200 each, let's say every two
years. Even though they are permitted (as authorized by GCG) to xerox
someone else's hardcopy manual here, it's cheaper for them to spend
$200 than to have some lackey spend hours of time flipping perforated
pages at a copier. I estimate the user labs at our site contribute
on the order of a 2 or 3 thousand dollars a year revenue to GCG for
manuals, that is, over and above what our Facility pays GCG for the
software license alone.
Even if the documentation is available by WWW, there will still be
people who see value in buying the hardcopy manuals for their local
use -- including a goodly portion of people who have ever had their
work impeded by network disruptions! So, it is certainly not the case
that GCG will lose *all* current revenue derived from manual sales.
If our site is any indication -- and, note, I really don't know
whether we're a relatively big or small one -- I will guess that WWW
access to the GCG manual (of some real user-friendly sort) would
ultimately result in a software license fee increase of 1 or 2
thousand dollars per year per site.
As usual, this amount would be significant for small sites, and no
big deal for large sites.
Anyway, I just thought someone ought to mention this money issue. As
Jasper Rees said, the GCG folks are not a charity -- although they
continue to behave in a very humane manner, which is not always the
case with commercial enterprises.
-- Mark Reboul
Mark Reboul, Columbia-Presbyterian Cancer Center Computing Facility
630 West 168th Street, P&S 1-420 mark at cuccfa.ccc.columbia.edu
New York, NY 10032 212-305-7360 (CPMC x7-7360)