Introducing Open Solutions Alliance

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Mon Feb 5 22:46:58 UTC 2007

Rick Moen wrote:
> I noticed recently that on February 15, at a panel discussion at the
> OpenSolutions Summit in NYC, Brian, representing, is going to
> be introducing to the world a new "trade association", the Open
> Solutions Alliance (OSA), about which curiously little is being said
> except that it will be "focusing on business use of open source apps",
> and "not as a standards body, but more like a Good Housekeeping Seal of
> Approval thing.".  Robin Miller has an interesting article about it:

>>"But unlike most open source software launches and even open source
>>association beginnings, OSA founders are unwilling to be quoted by
>>name about their plans before their formal launch."

One can't completely ignore the irony...

> Business use of open source apps is of course a very good thing.
> However, somewhat disturbingly, the main backer of the OSA, and owner of
> its domain, appears to be yet another
> proprietary Web 2.0 company posing to the public as an open source firm:
> Dark Horse Ventures, LLC of Norfolk, Virginia, DBA CentricCRM.
> CentricCRM publishes a "Community Edition" that is professed to be open
> source, but after you download it (which is possible only after
> registering and logging into their site), key code turns out to be under
> the "Centric Public License" (CPL), which is of course proprietary and
> used as an inducement to get people to buy separate commercial-use
> licences.

> CPL itself can be viewed here:

You can find out about the license without logging in, at .  However,
there's no doubt that the license is proprietary.

>>"By using the software you agree to abide by these terms.

>>You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of
>> it, thus forming a work based on the Program, for internal use only."

The rather horrible part occurred to me after a few moments.  This is a
modified version of the GNU GPL!  It's so different that it took me a
while to notice despite my familiarity with the GPL.  The plus side is
that in choosing such a poor (for their purposes) base license, they've
allowed a few license cracks.

E.G. they left:

>> If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
>> certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces,
>> Dark Horse Ventures may add an explicit geographical distribution
>>limitation excluding those countries, so that *distribution is
>>permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded*. In such case,
>>this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of
>>this License.

Because of the part I emphasized, and the fact that they have of course
not bothered to "exclude" anywhere the license can be read as permitting
distribution (though still not modification) anywhere.

Also, they have:

>>Such new versions will be similar in spirit to
>>the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems
>>or concerns.

so they theoretically can't remove the loophole.

Yes, these are clear abuses of the license, but I think no less than
this license abuses the FSF's permission to create modified variants of
the GPL.

> I note that the "Exhibit B" firms make a habit of using the concept of 
> open source as "a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval thing", and have
> seemed allergic to the concept of submitting their in-use licences to
> the applicable standards body.  Coincidence, or the upcoming vehicle for
> further circumvention of OSI scrutiny?

I can hardly ignore the apparently controller of an organization when
considering it.

Matthew Flaschen

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