The denial of licensing fees is a Good Thing in many ways, but denies the ability of a software producer to incur costs in advance with the expectation of charging license fees to recover those costs after the fact.
As a result, if I were to spend a year of time and a pile of money building the ultimate GNU Word Processor, there is no forcible way of recovering what was spent. Once the software has been released under the GPL, while I might make money from a business whose purpose is software distribution or from a business providing support, there is no way of gaining funding after the fact for software production.
At first glance, this sounds discouraging for the future of software production in a "Brave GNU World." This limits the ability of free software enterprises to solicit venture capital to help fund software production.
Fortunately, there also exist economic ideas used in the past that may be brought back into play to consider how software production may be supported, particularly from the realm of art. Artistic works are often commissioned, that is, a group of patrons issue an artist with resources and a commission to use those resources to produce a particular work of art. (They usually hope not to be cheated, with the situation that The Emperor Has No Clothes.)
Thus, a group of developers might band together, establish a project plan that may be reasonably expected to produce something useful, and attract patrons willing to provide the resources necessary to complete the project.
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