For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Fri Sep 26 01:28:35 UTC 2003

On Thu, 25 Sep 2003, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Brian Behlendorf (brian at
> > The essential device of an OSI license - the right to distribute modified
> > works without the copyright holders' consent - does mean there's a whole
> > host of business models the copyright holder simply can't make viable,
> > especially on a startup budget.  That's not a defect, or even necessarily
> > a shame - the balance of power in OSI-approved licenses is intentionally
> > weighted in favor of everyone but the authors.  This makes it hard to
> > reconcile, though, with the traditional model for small software
> > developers - that you get paid proportionate to the amount of value your
> > product is providing to people, roughly expressed as the number of people
> > using your product.  The fact that such a philosophy can't be supported
> > (at least not predictably and directly) by OSI licenses is what causes
> > people to see OSI licenses as "cheerleading for the GPL".
> I just want to perform a little semantic janitorial duty, here:
> Surely the allegation discussed at the end of your paragraph is
> objectively a factual error.  In anyone else's hands, I'd have suspected
> it was intended as flamebait.

It's not flame bait.  Show me an open source license that specifies that
each user pay the copyright holder for use.  That's the "predictable and
direct" method to compensate a copyright holder based on the number of
users of their software that just doesn't exist in open-source licensed
software.  I'm not saying it's a problem, I'm just saying it's
incompatible with the traditional way (and I'd suggest, still the
predominant way) software companies sell their goods.  Companies used to
the old model sometimes have trouble dealing with this, and think we're
all about some wacky anticapitalist ideal epitomized in their minds by the
GPL.  They don't see the shift the software economy is making from being a
packaged-goods-like industry to a services industry.

Semantically clean?


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