Subscription/Service Fees - OSD Intent

Lou Grinzo lgrinzo at
Thu Mar 29 18:52:45 UTC 2001

I'm sure I'm going to get beat up for suggesting this (as happens every time
I offer the idea, it seems), but what the heck...

I've contended for a long time that the primary problem with open/free
licenses is that they're not specific enough.  Look at this conversation
thread that's been running for days.  We have a bunch of intelligent,
honest, and genuinely interested people here who are having a hard time
figuring out just what in the world the GPL and/or the OSD mean.  How the
heck are average computer users or people who aren't as benign in their
outlook on OS supposed to interpret these documents?

My solution is for some group of people (like us) to collectively assemble a
list of every permutation of activity we can think of involving
software--sell it modified/unmodified with/without source, linked/not linked
with non-free/open SW, bundled/not bundled with other software, etc.--and
then have the licenses that care about where such lines are drawn include a
list that explicitly says something along the lines of, "Subject to the
other terms and conditions of this license, you are granted the rights to do
the following things with this software.  You are not granted the right to
do anything with this software that is not explicitly mentioned below unless
you make separate arrangements with the original author(s)."  [list of
activities]  Obviously some licenses, like the BSD license, would not
benefit from changing, since it's so wide open to begin with.

Perhaps I'm just a simple-minded programmer and writer, but I think this
would help clear up matters a great deal for everyone involved if the
licenses said exactly which rights they did and didn't grant, so no one had
to divine what the spirit of the license was, or go ask RMS what the GPL
really means, etc.  Yes, it would take some work, and yes, it would probably
need some revising as we collectively think of some details only after we've
all had a chance to think about it for some time, but in the long run
wouldn't that be far better than perpetuating all this confusion?

Take care,

-----Original Message-----
From: phil hunt [mailto:philh at]
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2001 5:57 AM
To: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: Subscription/Service Fees - OSD Intent

On Wed, 28 Mar 2001, David Johnson wrote:

> On Thursday March 29 2001 03:25 am, Eric Jacobs wrote:
> > It is this sort of illogical argument that will prevent this issue from
> > ever coming to rest. Let me offer an analogy.
> I did manage to pass logic in college. However, I don't always do so well
> English. Let me restate what I meant:
> Software that requires a registration fee is possible, and exists. Such
> software cannot be considered Open Source, however.

What about software that require registration (e.g. by email), but not
a registration *fee*? Can that be Open Source?

***** Phil Hunt *****
"An unforseen issue has arisen with your computer. Don't worry your silly
little head about what has gone wrong; here's a pretty animation of a
paperclip to look at instead."
         -- Windows2007 error message

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