Re: [PROPOSAL] Open Source certification

From: Lynn Winebarger <owinebar(at)se232(dot)math(dot)indiana(dot)edu>
To: bruce(at)perens(dot)com
Cc: chip(at)perlsupport(dot)com, knghtbrd(at)debian(dot)org, debian-legal(at)lists(dot)debian(dot)org, spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [PROPOSAL] Open Source certification
Date: 1999-04-02 20:46:25
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On 2 Apr 1999 bruce(at)perens(dot)com wrote:

> From: Joseph Carter <knghtbrd(at)debian(dot)org>
> > I formally propose that SPI step in and take control of its intellectual
> > property.
> I concur.

Third for that.

> > So far I can name two such instances in which non-free licenses are being
> > called Open Source. The first is Apple's license
> > The other real recent example may or may not have been directly endorsed
> > by OSI---I don't know for certain. The bitkeeper license is NOT Open
> > Source
> I spoke with Larry McVoy on the phone yesterday, it's very clear that he
> is _not_ promoting the license as Open Source, and OSI is not accepting it
> as such.
What a little more disturbing was seeing ESR asked in an interview
about the "New Copyleft" license. He said it might be time to rethink the
Open Source Definition to include such a beast. I wish I had the
Anyway, I think this kind of statement bodes very badly for the
OpenSource trademark, if SPI doesn't assert its ownership of the mark.

This is not to say I think ESR is evil. I have been very disturbed to
see some of the comments on slashdot, and in articles, regarding this
division over the Open Source tm. Frankly, the subtext of ESR's
announcements always seem to indicate that he's really for free software,
but sees gaining market share (and attracting commercial companies) is the
only realistic way to gain the mind share of the public and demarginalize
the issue. In a very real way he's correct - any time you want to take a
radical position and make it more acceptable, you have to move the middle
ground in that direction. Also, I agree with his analysis of the benefits
of making the source available, even if its not free, because it does
benefit the people who, for one reason or another, feel they must use that
platform. So, in general, I see any move toward more liberal licensing of
code as progress towards the overall goal of free software.

That said, I also believe the purpose of the Open Source trademark
should not so much be to help advertise products as to inform the consumer
as to the status of the license. This is especially important in light of
all the various licenses that have been proliferating lately. In this
regard, I believe the branding body (whether OSI, or a committee of SPI)
should play a role analagous to Consumer Reports, though it does allow the
use of the "rating" in advertising. Perhaps we should consider "levels"
of Open Source, rather than a simple binary switch. Then would could
these levels to indicate where in the spectrum a license falls, so the
developer wouldn't have to read the license looking for tricky legalese.
Actually, "levels" might not be quite right either, as the classification
might not be strictly hierarchical, but it would be a start.



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