[License-discuss] OSI's purely-neutral policy position on production of proprietary software (was Re: Query on "delayed open source" licensing)

Russell Nelson nelson at crynwr.com
Wed Nov 1 13:04:38 UTC 2023

Jesus, Bradley.

On 10/29/23 18:57, Bradley M. Kuhn wrote:
> Russ, thanks for clarifying this point as one of OSI's leaders.
> Russell Nelson wrote at 19:32 (PDT) on Friday:
>> We [speaking for OSI] don't criticize people for producing proprietary
>> software.
>> Various OSI leaders have indicated that they agree that proprietary software
>> is harmful over the years, and, as such I had thought there had already been
>> a position change by OSI from being neutral about proprietary software
>> toward a pro-software-rights position that sees proprietary software as
>> fundamentally harmful to society.
>> It seems the gap between OSI's positions — when compared to those of us who
>> are working for universal software rights and freedoms — remain as wide, and
>> it was merely my misunderstanding that there had been a position change.
>> While I'd rather see the positions between software rights activists and OSI
>> become closer, it's admittedly helpful to have a definitive answer from
>> leadership on that point, so thanks for that.
>> We [the OSI] think that the proprietary nature is its own punishment.
> Earning billions by taking rights away from consumers is a punishment?  I
> don't think Big Tech feels that punished right now, do you? 😆
> Less pithy: I wish the myth of FOSS technical exceptionalism were true, and
> maybe it was true in the late 1990s — 🤷.
> Sadly, it's certainly not true today. I observe that Big Tech has gotten
> extremely adept at exploiting FOSS for their own (proprietary) ends [0].
> IOW, companies have mostly found a way to get all the benefits from FOSS
> that they needed — *without* actually expanding the rights of their users
> beyond what users already had 20-30 years ago. (In fact, I suspect users, on
> average, probably have fewer rights in their ability to modify, improve, and
> reinstall their software today than they did in the 1990s).
> lrosen at rosenlaw.com wrote at 11:18 (PDT):
>>> We believe that Eric Allman (sendmail) invented dual-track releasing for
>>> sendmail simultaneous with, or slightly before, Deutsch's dual-track
>>> release of Ghostscript.
> It seems to me the sendmail business model was generally more of the nature
> of a proprietary fork of an upstream project (as opposed to delayed FOSS
> release).  I think what Ghostscript was, in fact, novel at the time: Aladdin
> had an entire product which stayed proprietary for some period — then the
> entire package was released under a copyleft license after that waiting
> period.  It seemed to me that particular behavior was what Seth was seeking
> information on … and not generally proprietary forks of FOSS.  But, it's
> OSI's study so maybe they are researching proprietary forks, too?
>> It is only because of Bradley Kuhn's judgmental and misleading posting that
>> we want to respond.
> What a world we live in that a post to an list run by *Open Source*
> Initiative that makes the assumption (as my post that Larry references did)
> that proprietary software is bad for society is called 'judgmental'.  🤣
> It feels like posting on a climate change organization's list and being told
> that one shouldn't judge Big Oil too harshly — those companies are just are
> trying to make a buck, after all, and their punishment will be that their
> profits will go down when we finally get renewable energy fully adopted.
> [0] I think one of the biggest changes in this regard has been how excellent
>      DVCS now is [1], and how convenient medium-term fork-based collaboration has
>      become.  At this point, there really is no punishment (as Russ calls it)
>      for maintaining a proprietary fork of a FOSS system.  Beyond that,
>      software is generally just better written to be more easily extensible
>      these days, too.
> [1] … which is its own irony, since the best DVCS's are, themselves,
>      FOSS, but are widely used to help make authorship of proprietary forks
>      of FOSS easier to maintain.

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