I've only recently begun to learn about the tensions between free and proprietary software, and I've been very confused by the way that free software can make money.
I understand that free software is "free as in speech, not as in beer," but if I release an open source program and then try to monetize it, what could possibly prevent someone from forking that software and creating a proprietary version?
Is the only thing that stops them the investment of other members of the open source community in improving the software?
It seems like every improvement free software makes is transparent so a proprietary copycat can make sure they are always up to date with the latest features in the free version, and then add their own features on top of that independently. I'm confused about how free software can survive in serious competition with proprietary software.