ZDNet article - why attribution matters

Matt Asay mjasay at gmail.com
Tue Nov 28 05:27:59 UTC 2006

> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 21:04:54 -0800
> To: <license-discuss at opensource.org>
> Subject: Re: ZDNet article - why attribution matters
> Quoting John-Sugar (john at sugarcrm.com):
>> Just another example of a way to be technically OSI approved, but still
>> protect your attribution marks. What happens if you remove all the redhat
>> marks and compile the source? RHEL makes that super simple right? No compile
>> issues? Any average developer should be able to do this right? Can you point
>> me to an URL and instructions on how to do this?
> http://linuxmafia.com/faq/RedHat/rhel-rebuild.html

Asay:  The fact that you have to point to an outside source proves John's
point.  He's not trying to beat up on Red Hat, but rather show that some of
our sacred cows (and trust me, I esteem Red Hat very highly) don't meet the
bar this list seems to want to put on attribution.

>> Another way is to add external service agreements that surround GPL
>> code that place extended limitations on the use of GPL code within
>> enterprises that buy commercial linux subscription contracts? If this
>> is true, it doesn't seem very open source to me. Even though it's 'OSI
>> approved'. 
> That would very clearly _not_ be open source, per OSD items #1, 6, and
> 8.  Strike one.

ASAY:  If that's the case, then I guess Red Hat isn't an open source
company, because John is describing Red Hat's model.
>> OSI is an organization that I believe tries very hard to represent the
>> interests of both developers and users. I really do not like the idea
>> of a small group of folks (I'm curious to understand how board members
>> are chosen, elected, etc.) trying to create laws for the rest of the
>> world.
> Trying to gratuitously change the subject to the personal merits of OSI
> Board members.  Strike two.
>> Open Source to me is about freedom. It's about letting the collective
>> wisdom of crowds choose the licenses as they, the users see fit.
> Fallacy of argumentum ad populam.  Strike three.

ASAY:  Actually, the strike here is that in one breath John talks about a
cabal (OSI), but doesn't recognize that if OSI is to be faulted on this
issue, it's for following the (apparent) crowd.
>> I am not trying to stir things up too much here.
> The noise will be ignored.  Don't worry.
>> I've purposely stayed away from this discussion because it felt more
>> like punditry then action. And most importantly, the acknowledgement
>> that open source is growing, but it is also changing. I hope OSI does
>> not get stuck in the past or it could, and I think will be superseded
>> by a new open source organization that more people both developers and
>> users feel represent their real interests and values.
> Oh yeah.  Threaten us with formation of yet another shareware collective.

ASAY:  Actually, I don't think John needs to threaten anything (nor do I
think he was).  The fact is, "open source" is not owned by OSI.  Anyone can
claim to be open source, and the only defense against such dilution is peer
pressure, as it were.  But if commercial development of open source becomes
equal to or greater than community development of open source (frankly,
we're already well past that point in terms of code that is commonly used),
then maybe the concern is actually valid.  Maybe an OSDL could spring up
that would listen to commercial concerns as ardently as OSI listens to
>> Attribution is here to stay.
> Attribution per se is of course not an issue.  Your remedial reading on
> that point should include the original BSD licence.
> And don't try to hustle the OSI, John.  You'll just waste everyone's
> time and look silly in public.

ASAY:  I think you're being unfair and rude, Rick.  I don't think John's
post warranted the tone of your response.
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