IPL as a burden

Gregor Hoffleit gregor at hoffleit.de
Mon Jan 15 22:48:22 UTC 2001


On Tue, Jan 16, 2001 at 12:32:36AM +0100, Manfred Schmid wrote:
> As of today, I do not know of Open Source Software, that asks for
> License Fees. We are the first (to my knowledge) to do so and I think
> that we will not be the only ones. Our customers did not mind to pay
> fees for VShop 2.x (closed source) and I do not see any reason why they
> should mind to pay fees for VShop3 since we are providing added value.
> To me, the spirit of Open Source is the availablity of the source and a
> set of freedoms and rights provided along with the source to guarantee
> better software and solutions. When looking at
> http://www.opensource.org/osd.html I do see no point stating "You must
> not claim license fees for an Open Source product"

        your reasoning may be perfectly valid (I don't hope so), but this is
not what is meant with the term Open Source.

        The availability of source is just an immediate consequence of the
spirit of Open Source, but not the most important thing. The best
description of the spirit of Open Source are still the "four freedoms" as
described in http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html.

        If you look at the history of the term Open Source, you'll see that
it started out essentially as an alternative word for "Free Software". The
Open Source Definition 1.0 was identical to Debian's Free Software
Guidelines. If you read the Debian social contract, which is the original
context of the DFSG, you'll see that "freedom to use" and "freedom to share"
are so obvious properties of free software that the author didn't even care
to mention them explicitely (how else could you understand the paragraph
about "no discrimination against field of endevaour).

        Since the OSD is based on the same text, you have to read and
understand it in the same context[1]. Within that context, your license
doesn't grant two basic freedoms.

        OTOH, I have to admit that the words "open source" indeed seem fit
to your license (maybe even better than they fit to the OS concept). And
that's why many people of the community were not glad when Bruce Perens and
ESR choose this term.

        So here's my proposal: Make a deal with OSI, take away the term
"open source" and use it for your concept of "open source, restricted use".
OSI could make a nice press release and officially adopt the term "free
software" (since we now know that the term OS is not trademark-able, its
intended use is lost anyway). Anybody would be glad.


[1] NB to the OSI board: Since the OSD now is used out of the context of the
    Social Contract, it may be better to explicitely mention the four
    freedoms that it's based on.

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