The Invisible Hand

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Oct 2 13:24:32 UTC 2001

John Cowan writes:
 > One must be careful about the meaning of "distributed".  AFAICT, if I
 > (a Reuters employee) download APSLed code and make a Modification to it
 > solely for my own use qua employee, not distributing it within Reuters
 > at all, that is not Personal Use, it is still Deployed code -- and APSL
 > clause 2.2.c insists that I publish my Modification to the whole world.
 > Whether I am sufficiently unconstrained by this for the APSLed software
 > to count as free is a question I leave to others.  At any rate, the GNU
 > GPL under the same set of facts does not compel publication of the
 > modification.

Yes, but we're not talking about the GPL.

 > > If you want to keep secret the fact that you
 > > are using a modified version of a piece of APSL software,
 > I think the more serious issue is not that an employee desires to
 > keep secret his modifications, but rather that his employer does
 > not permit him to publish anything.

In the real world, with judges, lawyers, and courts, Apple would have
to 1) discover that you have used it personally as an employee, and 2)
prove that you did this wearing your employee hat, as opposed to the
personal use of your work computer.  If your employer has a policy
that says "no personal use of your work computer", then do the work at
home, distribute it, when use it unmodified at work.  Or if you're
really protective of your privacy, anonymously distribute a patch,
then when someone incorporates it, use their code.

If you have a restrictive agreement with your employer that says "All
your code are belong to us", even that developed on your home
computer, then you should carefully think about who took away your
freedom -- Apple or your employer.

Many of the OSI Certified Open Source Software licenses impose a cost
on a contributor.  Some contributors may decide that the cost is too
high.  If so, that is their decision.  I don't think there's anything
in the Open Source Definition which says that making and/or
distributing modifications must not be inconvenient for anyone.  Nor
do I think the OSD needs something like that.  If it did, then the GPL
wouldn't pass the bar, with its requirement for three years of source

-russ nelson <sig at>
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