I find the comparisons that are getting tossed about quite interesting.
Running a web site like geocaching.com is not at all analogous to creating software. Software (Firefox, IE, Linux, Windows) is a single product that gets replicated thousands of times. Nobody comes back to the well until you build a new version. A large website is an organic product that gets used directly (not replicated) by thousands of users daily. That places a much larger burden on the web site's host/owner if the site is getting used as much as geocaching.com is used.
Thus, the open-source argument holds little water. If Groundspeak were to give away the database, what would happen? The only thing possible; another commercial entity would spring up. If I spend 1,000 hours writing a piece of software and I choose to give it away, it doesn't matter whether I give away one copy or a million; it still cost me 1,000 hours to make and I am out no more and no less. But if I (or Groundspeak) create a web site, it makes a huge difference whether one person hits it per month or a million. Look at wikipedia. It does not have advertising but it would sink if it were not funded by vast numbers of donation dollars. The money has to come from somewhere.
The Bell break-up has already been mentioned. I think it's worth pointing out that this is much more comparable than software. Those of us old enough to remember the good old days of Ma Bell will recall that the break-up was a debacle and is still a nightmare. No matter how you slice it, there can really only be one REAL phone company in any given region and everyone else has to rent that company's wires. It's all smoke and mirrors. But perhaps I digress.
You can't convince me that Groundspeak could have made an 'admirable' choice (by either keeping the site ad-free and membership-free or giving away the database) and it would still be alive and well and as robust as it is now unless you can show me a truly comparable example. Firefox is not the example and I don't think that there is one out there.
I'm also curious about this remark from Scout: "[Jeremy] had lawyers to threaten lawsuits against others with a different vision for the hobby."
Is this a reference to an actual event or just speculation? I don't recall this happening.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]