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Google WebM Calls "Open Source" Into Question

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the branding-is-everything dept.

Open Source 185

snydeq writes "As open source becomes mainstream, vendors are under pressure to market their offerings using the 'open source' brand to the highest degree possible — a trend that may eventually degrade the meaning of 'open source' as we know it, Savio Rodrigues writes. Witness WebM, which Google has positioned as an open alternative to H.264. After examining the software license, some in the open source community have questioned whether WebM should be classified as open source software. Google did not use an OSI-approved license for WebM, meaning that, at least in theory, WebM cannot be considered open source under the OSD — the 'gold standard' by which many government and business open source policies are defined. Moreover, when prodded for OSI review, Google required that the OSI agree to 'changes to how OSI does licenses' as a precursor to submitting a license for OSI review and approval. 'When Google, one of the largest supporters of open source, goes out and purposefully circumvents the OSI, what signal does this send to other vendors? How important is using an OSI-approved license likely to be in the future if other vendors follow Google's lead?'" An anonymous reader adds: "It turns out that libvpx, Google's VP8 library, isn't compatible with the GPLv2. Google is apparently aware of the problem and working on a solution.

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185 comments

I sense scaremongering (3, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381628)

You don't need the OSI to tell you what is open source and what isn't. Read the OSD and the WebM license and see for yourself.

Re:I sense scaremongering (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381704)

Has anyone run it past debian-legal yet? That would also be a credible mark of acceptability as free software.

Re:I sense scaremongering (2, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381924)

It's just BSD + a patent license.

OSI doesn't own a trademark on "Open Source" either and if they did, it would probably be ruled generic.

Re:I sense scaremongering (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382398)

Sounds like Microsoft Public License =)

Re:I sense scaremongering (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383306)

It's basically the BSD license (word for word) plus the patent license from the Apache License (slightly narrowed and paraphrased, but at least equivalent when paired with Google's license over the patents in the spec). So I honestly don't see anything worth arguing here.

Re:I sense scaremongering (4, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381984)

debian-legal is a place for discussion, the final decision is made by the FTP-masters. And lo, libvpx cleared through NEW today, without any bumps.
The article is merely a trolling attempt.

Re:I sense scaremongering (4, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381856)

It is not compatible with GPLv2. It is very clearly compatible with GPLv3 (at least the problem section pointed in the article).

Re:I sense scaremongering (3, Interesting)

mzs (595629) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382048)

I personally would wait for the FSF to make a statement about GPL3 compatibility, reading both sections from both licenses does not give me a 100% sure feeling that it is necessarily so.

Re:I sense scaremongering (3, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382626)

Yeah, no matter how clear it appears to me, it may be better to get a statement from the wolf's mouth. I mailed licensing@gnu.org asking for their word.

Re:I sense scaremongering (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383382)

I personally find it very difficult to read any license and the GPL v3 and be 100% sure they are compatible. Heck, I've previously expressed doubts about whether the BSD license is compatible if one reads them both strictly (The issue has to do with requirements on additional permissions and differences as to when restrictions can be added to turn a BSD-licensed work into a GPL-licensed work). Richard Fontana's advice (from the SFLC) was helpful. He said that the licenses were intended to be compatible so they should be read as being compatible.

With this in mind, I cannot see any reason this license is not compatible with the GPL v3 in any way that's more substantial than the BSD license is.

FSF Free Software, however. (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381694)

Note that WebM is, however, FSF-approved Free Software [fsf.org].

The FSF is rather more active than the OSI, and is unlikely to, e.g., get its corporate registration suspended just because they were too arse-disabled to get their paperwork in [the451group.com].

We do need some sort of organisation like the OSI, perhaps even the OSI itself. But I'm entirely unsurprised someone would consider the present OSI just not to have its shit together enough to be taken seriously.

Re:FSF Free Software, however. (4, Informative)

mzs (595629) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382010)

That link makes no claims that it is a FSF approved license, just that FSF is a proponent of using WebM format on the web. I would imagine a FSF approved license would be one of the GNU ones. They make statements about which licenses are GPL compatible at times, this was not such a statement either.

Re:FSF Free Software, however. (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382156)

I would imagine a FSF approved license would be one of the GNU ones.

Actually the FSF approves of using any license [gnu.org] that meets their definition of free software [gnu.org]. They discourage the use of GPL-incompatible licenses for new projects, but have no problem with contributing to existing projects under an incompatible license.

Re:FSF Free Software, however. (3, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382190)

It's an official FSF press release in which the FSF states that it's free software. It's not a place in their list of approved licences, but it is the FSF officially calling it free software. What you "would imagine" is incorrect - there are many licenses the FSF lists that are not GPL-compatible.

Re:FSF Free Software, however. (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382288)

It would be implausible to list every single license on that page. That's why they don't list licenses used by just one project unless there's some special reason to do so.

Re:FSF Free Software, however. (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383224)

...vendors are under pressure to market their offerings using the 'open source' brand to the highest degree possible...

I'm sorry, what planet are you on?

Whinging about Google wanting change? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381700)

They want a more open process, at least by the e-mail linked. Why is this anything to whine about? I find the request that the OSI attempts to deter the use of the license by others to be somewhat odd though.

Dear OSS Zealots (0, Flamebait)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381718)

Shut Up.

Sincerely,

Everyone.

Seriously, I get real tired to this trying to define "open source" to some narrow group of licenses that you happen to like. It is things like this that lends credence to MS's "viral" claims. Open source is a pretty common sense phrase: If the source is open for others to use, it is open source. Now this might be like the GPL, where it's open but with stipulations that you have to give back. It also might be open like the BSD license (which is what Google's is like) where it's open for use in any way you like, so long as you give credit It might even be public domain, where it is just flat open to do whatever you like with.

Trying to redefine "open source" as only special set of things that you like, often meaning only licenses that force the opening of code by subsequent users, is stupid. Open source means open source, if you can't figure it out then you are being overly pedantic and not helpful.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381876)

Only a complete idiot would ignore how compatible a license is with other open source licenses. I can in two lines create an open source license that is totally open and totally useless. Watch:

Totally incompatible license v1.0
"You're free to use this code for anything without restriction if any and all code in derivatives is licensed under the Totally incompatible license v1.0"

This obviously meets every definition of the OSI, but it's not compatible with anything, not even the BSD license. It's utterly useless unless you want the whole universe to relicense.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (4, Funny)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381920)

Uhm, haven't you just redefined GPL?

Not completely (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382196)

To get the full flavor of the GPL, he has to release "Totally incompatible license v2.0" as well, which, naturally, is incompatible with v1.0.

Of course, he convinced some of his license users to release under "Totally incompatible license v1.0 or greater" which means that he can now stick a clause in 2.0 explaining how he owns their souls.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382306)

There's a reason the GPL redistribution clause isn't two lines long. Because it's not that fucking stupid.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (3, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382722)

Actually, quite many licenses are GPL-compatible without being the GPL. They tried very hard in the GPLv3 to make more licenses compatible by letting you add various bits:

a) Disclaiming warranty or limiting liability differently from the terms of sections 15 and 16 of this License; or
b) Requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate Legal Notices displayed by works containing it; or
c) Prohibiting misrepresentation of the origin of that material, or requiring that modified versions of such material be marked in reasonable ways as different from the original version; or
d) Limiting the use for publicity purposes of names of licensors or authors of the material; or
e) Declining to grant rights under trademark law for use of some trade names, trademarks, or service marks; or
f) Requiring indemnification of licensors and authors of that material by anyone who conveys the material (or modified versions of it) with contractual assumptions of liability to the recipient, for any liability that these contractual assumptions directly impose on those licensors and authors.

But yes, ultimately the GPL says "no more restrictions". It doesn't matter if those restrictions are a good idea or not, if noone thought to include them in the license text they're not permitted.

Oddly enough, if I look at the GPLv3 under patents there's one word I'm not seeing here:
"Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor's essential patent claims, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contents of its contributor version."

The word I don't see is "irrevocable". Does this mean Google's patent termination clause is GPLv3-compatible? Good question indeed.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382782)

No, the GPL has a very broad range of OTHER licenses compatible with it. As long as you follow the spirit of the rules, it's unlikely your license will be incompatible with it.

In fact, any free but GPL-incompatible licenses tend to be either borderline free (advertising clause, immutable-but-patchable, etc) or specifically designed to be GPL-incompatible (CDDL, I'm looking at you!).

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32381886)

Amen!

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (2, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381978)

So, every product that claims to be 'green' is equally green for you?

You don't think it would be useful to have some help in determining which ones adhere to practices that are generally considered to be good (or at least, not so bad) for the environment?

I personally am not willing to trust that every claim of green, or open, or whatever is equal, but I don't have time to investigate these things myself, so I appreciate the help of organizations that will help me sort these things out.

I'm not looking for companies or products claiming these titles to be perfect, but without some scrutiny these claims will become meaningless and we won't even know the difference.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382250)

So, every product that claims to be 'green' is equally green for you?

Yep, that's analogous to what the parent post claimed. Let's see, your interpretation:

Anyone who claims they are open must be open source.

What the parent actually said:

People who are so pedantic as to nitpick about arbitrary details that define openness are a burden. If the source is open for use, then it's open source. It really is that simple.

You didn't take many classes in proper paraphrasing in high school now did you? Sheesh.

All late-afternoon bitterness, aside, your other point about the help of various organizations to verify claims of openness being a benefit to us all still stands.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382002)

Use a brand new license and people are right to be suspicous.

Licenses are like reading someone else's source code. They're bastard cousins of contracts
and contracts are complicated twisted things specifically engineered to try and screw the
other guy. This is a reason to avoid license proliferation and a reason to stick to what
is well understood. Legal language has consequences.

So the obvious question is why has Google chosen to add to the mix or start from scratch.
What are they up to? What is the motivation that already isn't encapsulated in one of the
pre-existing licenses.

A new license needs to be vetted just like any other legal language.

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382730)

Isn't the "new" license Google is using for WebM just the BSD license with some added stuff about how everyone is free to use all the patents they own that are part of the WebM project without fear of legal recourse? Seems reasonable to me. It's all of 3 paragraphs .. check it out: http://www.webmproject.org/license/software/

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382754)

What is the motivation that already isn't encapsulated in one of the pre-existing licenses.

A new license needs to be vetted just like any other legal language.

Well, the legal team at Google is doing just that. By writing a license for the stuff they plan to use and give away, they make sure that they agree with all the terms of the license... The people wanting to see the cat fly [youtube.com] don't care how it gets to them as long as it's free (as in beer).

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382022)

It is things like this that lends credence to MS's "viral" claims.

I don't know what the heck you mean by that, but I'm pretty sure I disagree with it. The GPL is viral, in a sense. That's not a bad thing, because it only gives you rights on top of what copyright already gives you. Don't want to abide by the GPL? Find out who has the copyright and license it from them the old-fashioned way. Whether or not Microsoft thinks that's acceptable has nothing to do with anything.

Open source is a pretty common sense phrase: If the source is open for others to use, it is open source.

And I get real tired of people overgeneralizing and then wiping their hands as if the problem just went away. Look at what happened to "green"... as a term, it's essentially worthless, unless you're talking about the color of money. I'm not saying the FSF should be the arbiter of all things free, but we could easily find edge cases regarding "the source is open for others to use."

What's funny (3, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382182)

Google's license for this software is just an approved BSD license + a narrow patent license. If it'd be open source without the patent license, I'm not at all sure why it wouldn't be open source with an added patent license which is along the spirit of the original license.

This controversy is STUPID. Next we'll hear bitter complaints about how PostgreSQL's not "open source."

Re:Dear OSS Zealots (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383556)

Paraphrase: 'this conversation is not of interest to me - so I will ask everyone to stop talking about it'.

You clearly don't understand the implications of licenses, so I would politely point out that this conversation isn't of relevance to *you*, but it is to those who do understand them.

Google is following Microsoft/Market Prinicples... (1)

SCVirus (774240) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381728)

The OSS 'philosophy' is a diluted, ad-hoc, pragmatic version of the philosophy of Freedom-respecting software. It is inherently weak and has and will be diluted for marketing purposes, and to placate 'sufficient portions' of the philosophically divided, weak OSS 'community'. OSS is devoid of an idealist core, its 'idealism' is a (often unfounded) claim of pragmatic superiority. It will be diluted until the newspeak makes NDA-source == OSS.

is the source avaiable for download / inspection? (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381740)

if the source is open, it is open source.

if you want to make a new proprietary term for software licensed and blessed by OSI, then do that... perhaps "OpenSource"

Re:is the source avaiable for download / inspectio (2, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381804)

Microsoft has a "shared source" thing [microsoft.com] where they will show you the source code for reference purposes (Wikipedia says for viewing Microsoft classes while debugging) but you can't redistribute it. Definitely not open source.

Re:is the source avaiable for download / inspectio (2, Interesting)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382236)

Definitely not open source.

this is my point... it IS open source when "open" is used as an adjective and "source" is used as a noun. you are using "open source" as if it meant something different than the sum of it's parts. it might not be the "open source" that you're talking about, but you can't truthfully say "it's not open source"... the source was made open.

Re:is the source avaiable for download / inspectio (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382684)

if you can see it, then it's open. Its not free however. Don't get the 2 confused just because most GPL/BSD/etc code is free and open.

Re:is the source avaiable for download / inspectio (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383404)

Microsoft is actually very careful about how it uses the term "open source". It does have some true OSS licenses of its own (e.g. Microsoft Public License), and some projects under those licenses, such as IronPython or IronRuby - and those are referred to as "open source"; while projects where source is available, but modification or redistribution is not allowed, are, as you rightly point out, referred to as "shared source".

So, yeah, I'd say that the difference is fairly mainstream within the industry. While the term "open source" is ambiguous, at this point, using it to mean something other than the OSI definition has a much higher potential to mislead people. I think that the best bet is to only ever use it in OSI sense, but also to capitalize it (i.e. "Open Source", not "open source"), to indicate that it is a well-defined term with a specific meaning to a reader who may not be familiar with it.

Who cares (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381762)

Open source has been around a lot longer than Google. The OSI can just continue doing their thing, and everyone will look for the nod from RMS, and nothing will change. Google can of course just use the words "open source" and maybe the OSS fad people who get a kick out of sticking it to the man and not using IE will be led astray, but the open source community isn't a bunch of art students looking for a sleek OPEN SOURCE logo at the bottom of the page, it's a bunch of intelligent developers who already deal with the ins and outs of software licensing and it will remain cognizant of the issues. And maybe many of them will decide that Google's terms are fine, and develop software using this new format. Why is that a bad thing?

The only thing that worries me is that the GPL isn't very flexible when it comes to differences of opinion. One developer's decision to develop software on Google's terms could have huge ramifications for the options available to the project, because everything is GPL'd these days. It's more important than ever to encourage more permissive licensing like the BSD and MIT licenses to give earnest open-source developers the option of disagreeing and the ability to improve OSS.

Not what you would expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32381766)

I am with Linus on this one
Linus is right
The man makes sense
He is absolutely correct on this one

Re:Not what you would expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32381990)

I wouldn't trust anything Benjamin Linus says.

This may come as a surprise (1)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381836)

News flash: Google is not God, we don't have to timidly follow their lead.

Well, okay, they are God, but only because so many believe in them. It doesn't have to be that way.

Oh yes! Also, cue the comments about how all religions are like this.

Re:This may come as a surprise (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382386)

Well, okay, they are God, but only because so many believe in them. It doesn't have to be that way.

Doesn't that make them Ori, rather than God? :P

Re:This may come as a surprise (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382742)

This may come as a surprise, but there's an article linked from the summary!

This Google licence is basically BSD one with an appendix covering patent issues.

"open source" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381848)

is drowning us in papaerwork.. the burgeoning bureaucracy will grow bigger than the damn government if we let this continue... Make it easy on yourselves and the rest of us please. Just say it ain't open until it's in the public domain.. The one true "license".

seconded! (1, Insightful)

Yo,dog! (1819436) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382040)

I'll second that! I am so sick of the smugness coming from developers who release their code under the GPL. Imagine where we could be if social pressure was instead applied toward making code public domain or at least "BSD" licensed. In particular, this should be the case if the work is funded at all by government grants.

Re:seconded! (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382548)

Were we would be?
We would have no access to source, companies would feel free to use works with no giving back to the source and we would have a massive tragedy of the commons. Yeah, that sounds great.

Re:"open source" (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383340)

That paperwork is like the Lost plug holding back the darkness of Adobe, MPEG LA, Apple, M$ ect.
Your code will be mortal again and they will hunt it down.

This strikes me as misleading (2, Insightful)

astrashe (7452) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381882)

It seems very clear that Google is trying to support open standards and technologies. Different people are going back and forth over licenses and procedures. Everyone seems to be acting in good faith. And there's no reason to believe that it won't all get worked out.

The language in the /. article almost makes it sound like Google is trying to do something like "Embrace and Extend". I just don't think that's what's going on.

If we can move to a place where most video is managed with open technologies, it will be very good for everyone. I'm grateful to the companies who get it, and to people who are trying to figure out the best way to do it. And I don't think the fact that there are small differences of opinion among those folks is a good reason to get upset.

Re:This strikes me as misleading (3, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382024)

The OSI seems upset that someone has finally said "sorry, you're too arse-disabled to take seriously. You want to be taken seriously, get your shit together."

The licence is Free Software as far as the FSF and Debian are concerned.

Re:This strikes me as misleading (1)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382520)

Does anyone really care about OSI, or being certified as "open source"?

The real problem is the GPL-incompatibility. What's the point of releasing this library if a large fraction of free software programs can't use it? For example, mplayer is GPL, ffmpeg is GPL (unless you disable features), vlc is GPL, even firefox is GPL (unless you choose one of the two other licenses). In other words, even though technically it's free software, the library is useless.

It might not be so serious if the license is compatible with GPL3. It is not clear at all, at the moment, if it is, but it's clearly not compatible with GPL2. Even so, seeing as many programs are licensed GPL2+ or GPL2-only, this could rule it out for them.

Re:This strikes me as misleading (1)

breser (16790) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383310)

I've read the thread when it showed up in my email. I didn't see any sign that OSI was upset. Someone brought up the fact that google was using a different license. There was a discussion about the license they used. OSI doesn't evaluate licenses unless the authors of the license ask them for their opinion of the license. Someone suggested they prod Google. Google responded and said they weren't ready to submit it and were still working out compatibility issues. They also said they wanted to discourage reuse of this license and asked for procedural changes to deal with that. They also asked for more openness from OSI on the discussions surrounding the license and for clarification of a corporate governance issue.

Nobody seemed upset. Rather someone just tried to turn a non-issue into news.

Re:This strikes me as misleading (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383438)

There's nothing wrong about "embrace & extend". It's the "extinguish" part, when it happens, that is undesirable. In this case, though, I don't see how it applies.

You want open? (2, Interesting)

Yo,dog! (1819436) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381906)

A "BSD" license is open.

Re:You want open? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382228)

The WebM license is a BSD license with an added clause giving an explicit patent license.

Re:You want open? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383462)

The BSD license is enjoyed by MS and others, that should be a clear warning from the past.
What Google wants is a end user bandwidth ready get out of royalty payments codec.
Nothing more or less. They dont want to have to give back in any form or be any more open with related projects.
They also expect their 'gift' to be worked on by developers around the world for free, updating, optimising and fixing.

Re:You want open? (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383758)

The BSD license works REALLY well for the PostgreSQL project though....

Me? I mostly just sick of license wars.

Re:You want open? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382596)

It's open as in the "open your legs and prepare to get raped" kind of open. Yet in this case this is exactly the point. The software is not important, what's important is that as many people as possible use the WebM format. So the BSD license would be quite appropriate for everyone involved, including those who usually recommend the GPL.

Re:You want open? (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382840)

A "BSD" license is open.

Especially in the nether region, inviting anyone like Apple to exploit you without giving anything in return.

Re:You want open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32383296)

Why do you have to get anything in return? Do you enjoy going through life wondering if someone is using your GPL code in an unauthorized manner? Have you ever wondered how much more your code would get used--how much more society would benefit--if it was truly open? Just publish your code with a truly open license and move on. IMHO if everybody did this, software would progress a whole lot faster.

Re:You want open? (3, Insightful)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383476)

A "BSD" license is open.

Especially in the nether region, inviting anyone like Apple to exploit you without giving anything in return.

And yet, for some reason, Apple gives back, anyway...

Kinda misleading (3, Informative)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381934)

This sounds a lot less like 'google calls open source into question' and more 'google calls OSI into question'. I am not immediately seeing anything in this license that makes it sound non-OSS, all it seems to be lacking is the rubber stamp of a particular group within OSS, which is not the same thing. Especially since google's complaints about OSI do not seem to be related to software but instead to process.

Re:Kinda misleading (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382394)

Certainly it seems like an issue with OSI, not with open source in general. In particular can someone explain this:
2) We will want the bod list archives open for any discussions of webm. We are not comfortable with OSI being closed.

Why would an open source firm lack transparency?

Criteria (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381956)

Google did not use an OSI-approved license for WebM, meaning that, at least in theory, WebM cannot be considered open source under the OSD

Nonsense. OSI approval is not amongst the criteria in the Open Source Definition. OSI approval is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for meeting the OSD.

*WebM* is open sourced? (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381962)

How can a *format* be open sourced? It's like saying that JPG or DOC are "open source". If you're talking about particular implementation, then please be more clear.

As a side note / example:

Statement: "H264 is open source (see x264 project)"

Is true: Y/N?

Re:*WebM* is open sourced? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382740)

x264 is absolutely open source. And in most of the world, it's no different to any other piece of OSS. Sadly, in the US, there are major patent issues.

I know, you're just whining about semantics. But go to webmproject.org and click "Code". That's what we're talking about, m'kay? libvpx, just as mentioned in the summary. It's the reference implementation from the same guys who created WebM.

Re:*WebM* is open sourced? (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383572)

In theory you can create software that is compatible with the format, in practice the software is the format. It is too complex otherwise.

Don't mix up source code and data format (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381964)

Open source licences are meant for source code, not for data formats.

I don't care if Google's VP8 library is not strictly speaking open source (or even proprietary), just as long as the WebM format is described in a precise way in a public document, with no patents forbiding me to implement a codec.

In the same way, I would happily buy a proprietary version of Microsoft Word 2013, if only it would save documents in strict ODF format.

Re:Don't mix up source code and data format (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382052)

One of the problems with VP8 is that the present definition includes bits of C code ;-) Xiph is one of the organisations working on cleaning it up.

Re:Don't mix up source code and data format (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382564)

If it is good C code that could be fine. At least it makes it a strict spec. All specs should at least come with a reference version.

Re:Don't mix up source code and data format (2, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382920)

I don't care if Google's VP8 library is not strictly speaking open source (or even proprietary), just as long as the WebM format is described in a precise way in a public document, with no patents forbiding me to implement a codec.

The problem is, given current US intellectual property laws, no one can say for certain that there as "no patents forbidding me to implement a codec". That is up to the legal process. Active people in the IP space say that all modern digital video compression methods are probably covered by someone's patent. You could hire your own lawyer to do due diligence to try to see if there are any patents applicable (and perhaps Google did this), but there could be hundreds of thousands of broadly worded patents to examine, and it isn't a 100% certain thing. And maybe a patent troll would come after you, or maybe not, and maybe you'd win in court, or maybe not, or maybe you'd just pay them off to go home.

I personally feel that there should be a method where ANSI-recognized standards have a "patent clearing" period. Perhaps all IP holders get 1-2 years after publishing of a standard by an ANSI-certified standard development organization, you either have to step up and register that your patent is relevant to the standard or you can not claim IP violation by the use of that standard.

I know the free/open software world would love patent-free audio/video compression, but those of us in the professional video industry would just like to know whose patents we might be using and how much it might cost us when we use a standard like H.264. I can tell you that the trolls keep coming for video compression standards over 10 years old, even today!

Re:Don't mix up source code and data format (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32383468)

In the same way, I would happily buy a proprietary version of Microsoft Word 2013, if only it would save documents in strict ODF format.

It does that since Office 2007 SP2.

(assuming that by "strict ODF" you mean "fully conformant to the letter of ISO standard", not "fully interoperable with OO.org")

compatibilty (5, Informative)

mzs (595629) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381972)

I am not a lawyer. Here's the gist. the license is not compatible with:

GPL, GPL2, LGPL2

compatible with:

BSD, MIT

likely compatible with:

Apache, CDDL, Mozilla

unlikely compatible with:

GPL3

This all boils down to the patent clause at the end. It makes further restrictions upon distribution. They are worded in a way that looks to be compatible with Apache and the like, but someone from the FSF should really step in and announce if the two different patent clauses are compatible in GPL3 and WebM license.

That's all that really matters to most, it is not an OSI approved license, since it has not been submitted. That matters to some organizations in choosing a license.

Re:compatibilty (2, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382630)

What's funny is that the regular (modified) BSD-style license, which grants *no* patent license at all, is considered GPLv2 compatible. How can a license that grants you additional rights on top of the BSD license then be *in*compatible with the GPLv2? The brain boggles...

As soon as you bring up patent grant rights, I guess you potentially run afoul of Section 7 of the GPLv2 which references patents? The interaction between Google's (conditional on not suing Google) patent grant and Section 7 of GPLv2 is not obvious to me.

I actually don't see anything explicitly incompatible with the original GPL, which doesn't mention patent rights at all.

The GPLv2 is not well defined or well structured to deal with these patent-bomb laden areas like video encoding.

As for GPLv3 compatibility - too hard for a non-lawyer to figure out all the potential interactions there. The brain really boggles.

Re:compatibilty (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382790)

Yeah, and the "restriction" is basically "if you try to sue someone for patent infringement on the code covered by this license, then your license to use it is terminated".

If you are scared to use software because you may be restricted from suing other people using it, then by all means DON'T USE IT.

I must have missed it. (1)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381980)

I must have been sleeping when the OSI became the sole and deciding arbiter of what was and wasn't open source. Also, most of Google's issues with OSI seem to be that it isn't open enough.

Google wants "changes to how OSI does licenses'" (4, Insightful)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32381994)

Well, here is what Google was concerned about:

1) We will want a label explicitly deterring the use of the license.
2) We will want the bod list archives open for any discussions of webm. We
are not comfortable with OSI being closed.
3) We need to know OSI's current corporate status. I heard that osi was a
california corporation again, but I would like to know, from the group, that
this is true for 2010 and that there aren't any issues there.

So, they want the OSI to be more open, and they want to discourage the use of the WebM license by others to prevent license sprawl, and they want to verify OSI's corporate status.

Anyone else have a problem with these changes? They seem help everyone.

Re:Google wants "changes to how OSI does licenses' (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382302)

Also, I think it's worth noting that the GPL v3 would have to be interpreted to allow substantially compliant licenses to be compatible even if there are minor incompatibilities according to a strict reading. Otherwise, the BSD license would be incompatible because the BSD license cannot be reduced to GPL v3 + additional acceptable terms (the issue here has to do with removal of the "additional permissions" and when that's possible). So I think it's reasonable to assume that two licenses are compatible if no major incompatibilities exist. For that reason I cannot see a case that can be made that this patent clause is incompatible with the GPL v3. At least it's no more incompatible in general than it would be without the patent license.

"Open source" is getting diluted everywhere (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382000)

Within the Transportation Security Administration, the phrase "open source" refers to publicly available versions of various types of documents.

Re:"Open source" is getting diluted everywhere (2, Interesting)

panda (10044) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382466)

That's actually a much older use of the term open source in the intelligence community. "Open source intelligence" means getting your intelligence from open, i.e. public, sources. It's used in intelligence predates the "coining" of the term for use with software. [citation needed.]

I much prefer just calling free and "open source" software, because without the source code, it isn't really "soft" ware, is it? Well, sure, you can hack the binaries, but that isn't as useful.

Yup (1)

calderra (1034658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382016)

So the question as to whether or not something is open-source is resolved by trying to figure out what license(s) you can use it under. Yeah, that's everything I currently feel about the open source community in a nutshell. (and yes, I do know what I'm saying there)

It is 'Open' enough for me,if it has the following (3, Informative)

lazy_nihilist (1220868) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382074)

* Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
* Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
* Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
* Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

license compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382114)

It turns out that libvpx, Google's VP8 library, isn't compatible with the GPLv2.

More accurately, it is the GPLv2 that isn't compatible with the libvpx license.

Re:license compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32383172)

GPLv2 is older and widespread.
So, in this case, it's the Google's license which is not compatible with GPLv2.

Oh yeah, the much appreciated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382120)

"working on a solution". Google, there's notting to work on a solution. There's no grey in GPL compatibility, you are compatible to it or you don't.

Dear Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382134)

H.264 is already used everywhere, it's already in production software, it's already in hardware.

You have a shitload of money. Use it to buy H.264 and AAC from MPEG-LA, require licenses from commercial products and make it free-to-use for open-source products and for home users.

Did any of you actually *read* the controversy (2, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382238)

Google didn't ask for any of this.

OSI didn't ask for any of this.

Someone who wanted to start developing stuff on top of the library (who happens to be esr) asked for this.

Then some things were said, like "well we're not ready yet" but in a hurried and somewhat non-diplomatic manner.

Then the whole thing blew up just enough for the lid to leave the teapot by about a quarter of an inch before it settled back down.

There is no there there.

Re:Did any of you actually *read* the controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32382374)

Someone who wanted to start developing stuff on top of the library (who happens to be esr) asked for this

esr developing something? Are you sure you don't mean "someone who wanted to stir up a controversy"?

Re:Did any of you actually *read* the controversy (3, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382412)

What pem said. The original summary above is full of hyperbole and epic levels of FUD. A thread on a mailing list elevated to the status of News. Sheesh. Slashdot editors, please use some discretion.

For those Slashdotters who want the executive summary, go read the LWN thread from 4 days ago: http://lwn.net/Articles/388883/ [lwn.net]

dilution of "open source" (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382638)

Whatever the merits of this particular disagreement, the term "open source" is definitely getting diluted in the same way that "organic" and "innovative" have been diluted. I went to a symposium in LA last year about the governor's Free Digital Textbook Initiative [bbc.co.uk]. There was quite a mix of people there -- teachers, education bureaucrats, open-source software types, authors of free books, people from hardware companies, and people from traditional textbook publishing houses. Everyone was using "open source" like it was magic pixie dust, sprinkling it on everything to make it seem shinier and better. Pearson's rep referred to the consumable workbook it submitted as "free and open-source" -- actually it's just a PDF file that you can download and print, but that you can't redistribute, modify, etc. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's rep, when questioned about DRM, said that her company was committed to DRM, and envisioned its DRM'd materials being mixed and matched with open-source ones. Both said that they wanted to be service providers (think Red Hat), rather than just content providers (a la Microsoft) -- but, hey, they produce really great content, too. Apple and Dell's reps argued for open formats such as XML.

Part of the reason for the confusion is that people are confused about applying the term to anything other than computer software. When I've mentioned here on slashdot that I was the author of some open-source books, I've sometimes gotten reactions amounting to, "You're an idiot. You don't even know what open source means." This despite the fact that the books are under a GPL-style copyleft license (CC-BY-SA, same as Wikipedia) and their source code (written in a programming language called LaTeX) is openly available and free for redistribution and modification under that license. It sounds like there's similar confusion here because people aren't distinguishing clearly between the issue of WebM as an open format and the implementation of WebM in open-source software. Who the heck cares whether google's reference implementation is open source, as long as the format is openly defined and usable without paying patent royalties? The first implementations of html by NCSA weren't open source according to the modern meaning of the term, but html was certainly an open format.

"Open Source" -/ OSI. (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382786)

Just as "Free Software" does not exclusively mean FSF approved.

So, Google's release doesn't meet one specific definition of "Open Source" doesn't mean that either WebM isn't open source, or that the name or model of "open source" is in question.

It just means that WebM is "open source" by some definitions, but not others.

I see this in the same light as Apple's licensing of Mac OS X as "UNIX". It's just a name. Apple called it "unix" before it was officially licensed as "UNIX". Does that mean that versions before they licensed the name are any less "unix"? Does it mean that because the underlying bits are the same as before, that the current versions aren't really "UNIX" because all they did was license the name?

No, it's just a name. Or in WebM's case, it's just one organization's definition. Some people get too worked up over a simple definition.

i just bought... (1)

sophomoric (1715780) | more than 3 years ago | (#32382884)

I just bought some open source fruit juice. It tasted the same as organic fruit juice, but had an additional 20 cent premium.
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