Definition of open source

Arnoud Engelfriet galactus at
Sun Nov 7 02:30:55 UTC 2004

Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Arnoud Engelfriet (galactus at
> > The whole idea behind open source is that the code is open;
> > it's freely available to all. There is no owner.
> There is an owner; the owner is the person or persons who own legal
> title.  As such, the owner(s) has/have quite a number of unique
> statutory rights -- including the right to issue separate code instances
> under different terms, including in particular proprietary ones.  Those
> rights are _not_ available to anyone who, by contrast, receives a copy
> of the code under a licence grant.

You are of course legally correct. But to many businesspeople
the notion of "owner" is more than just "has title". It also
means "has full control, including over derivatives and forks".

So that's why I try to avoid the term, in favor of contributors,
maintainers and distributors.

> If you want to state the "whole idea" simply, one formulation might be
> "the permanent right and ability to fork, along with the permanent right
> and ability to redistribute and use the work and its derivatives freely".  

I'll agree with that.


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:

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