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Clash of the Open Standards

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the draw-lightsabers-and-go dept.

Software 215

Rollie Hawk writes "Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Computer Associates (CA) may agree that some housework is needed with open source licensing, but they may not be able to reconcile their views on the best solution. CA has a couple of possible solutions in mind for its proposed Template License. This license will likely be based on either Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) its own Trusted Open Source License. OSI, which does not favor corporate-centered licensing, opposes such moves on a number of grounds. Specifically, they point out that CDDL is not GPL-compatible. While acknowledging the problems with license proliferation, OSI prefers a solution involving stricter criteria (including that approved licenses must me non-duplicative, clear and understandable, and reusable) and is proposing a "three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated." While there is no legal requirement for any open-source license to be approved by OSI, it is currently common practice for developers to get their license blessing from it."

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215 comments

Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary? (0, Troll)

puckmaster87 (740068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211028)

While there is no legal requirement for any open-source license to be approved by OSI, it is currently common practice for developers to get their license blessing from it. I don't really see a point in licensing open source software. The whole point of it is that it's OPEN.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211054)

1. In your mailbox, you discover a subpoena.
2. ????
3. (Profit)!!!

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (5, Insightful)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211056)

It's open, but that doesn't mean that anyone can do what they want with it. That amounts to licentiousness, and not freedom.

Licensing open-source software ensures that the developers work is not abused or ripped off by companies seeking a quick profit. Any code written under an open-source license is to remain free forever, at least theoretically.

And before Slashdotters start asking why it's ok for developers to license code and not for the RIAA to license music, remember that the former means profit for the violator, while the latter doesn't.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (1)

rdc_uk (792215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211070)

"And before Slashdotters start asking why it's ok for developers to license code and not for the RIAA to license music, remember that the former means profit for the violator, while the latter doesn't."

allofmp3.com would like to disagree with your assertion that you don't make money by violating music "licensing"...

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211094)

I was referring primarily to students and the like who download, but don't make a profit.

My bad.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211836)

The difference between saving money and making money is rather arbitrary. The point is that if you don't have to pay for something that normally costs money, you are recieving a financial benefit.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211986)

There is a big moral difference between receiving a financial benefit by saving money, and receiving the same financial benefit by exploiting the work of others.

Perhaps it is a fine line, but it is a line nonetheless.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (2, Interesting)

dago (25724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211173)

except that allofmp3.com does NOT violate any law and has properly took a license from the proper russian administraton.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211201)

"properly took a license from the proper russian administraton"

and yet NOT from the record companies whose IP is being licensed by the russian administration

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211769)

Still legally, though.

Different countries, different laws.

CSS is illegal restraint of trade in Aus. Does that mean CSS is illegal? Depends on the country.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211075)

No one gives a shit what you or the OSI say or do.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (4, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211799)

"Any code written under an open-source license is to remain free forever, at least theoretically."

This is just open/free source propaganda. Any code that is placed in the public domain or under a BSD-style license will "remain free forever" without a GPL style license. In other words, no corporation can make it illegal for you to use it or extend it.

A license like the GPL makes it impossible to "lock up" derivative works that are distributed, but that has nothing to do with the "freedom" of the original code.

Re:Licensing Open Source: Is this really necessary (1)

Nimrangul (599578) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212149)

Thank you, had I the mod points I would put one on you.

I hate it when people are so completely blind-stupid about open source; they just listen to what they're told and don't bother to actually think, it's as bad as the people that blindly think a computer is Windows.

Software abuse (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211871)

And how, pray tell, does a company abuse or rip-off open-source software? What exactly do you mean by this? I've heard of child abuse, spousal abuse, self abuse, but software abuse is a new one.

Whether a company uses the software or not, they cannot prevent others from using the software. It remains open source. How is the company treading on the rights of others when they use the software?

If I write software as open source, and a company uses it to make a profit, great. It just shows the software has real economic value. And most of the companies' revenue will likely go to paying salaries and taxes anyway. I actually don't mind companies making a profit.

You're vague wording hides just another tiresome political agenda.

Re:Software abuse (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212034)

True, the company, like Maui X-tream, cannot prevent others from using software. Hence, they're not committing theft. But they are exploiting the work of others in order to make a quick profit. That is morally wrong.

I don't expect everyone to have the same principles and morals as me. You are free to allow companies to use your software the way you like, and I believe the BSD license provides for this.

My vague wording has nothing to do with politics. It's my personal belief. If you wish to label me as a liberal, a communist or a neo-con is entirely up to you. But there is nothing political about stopping companies from exploiting others. It's plain common sense.

It agree with suns proposal (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211029)

It agree with suns proposal

GPL-compatible (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211036)


Specifically, they point out that CDDL is not GPL-compatible.

Umm... so? Since when was the GPL the pinnacle of open source licensing anyway? Licenses pushing a corporate agenda aren't really any worse than the GPL which pushes a political agenda.

Re:Umm, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211218)

So, since the GPL is the most commonly used one, it's more likely that any software bundled with something you distribute under a new license will be GPL'd. If the two aren't compatible, users have to figure out which set of rules to follow, which usually means they will just ignore the rules.

Using the GPL means your code will always remain open (except that *you* can license it another way if you wish). With "licenses pushing a corporate agenda", they can take your code, compile it, sell the result, and not give a thing back to you or anyone else.

These corporate licenses are all about one thing: allowing companies to take open code and include it in a proprietary package without compensating the original authors.

That's why it matters.

Re:Umm, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211890)

Who said the GPL is the most commonly used license?

Re:GPL-compatible (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211241)

And OSI has an official standard [opensource.org] that doesn't demand GPL compatibility. I sympathize with their opposition to license proliferation (although in the absence of proliferation, why would licenses need to be certified?), but it seems inappropriate to deny certification to licenses that meet their published standards.

Re:GPL-compatible (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211349)

Umm... so? Since when was the GPL the pinnacle of open source licensing anyway?

It is not a pinnancle but a standard. It is like talking about a computer that is not compatible with a Windows network. If they couldn't coexist in the same network (product), it would be a niche computer (license) regardless of its qualities.

A standard boilerplate corporate license would be great, compared to the custom brew everyone has today. But to make an OSS license that is almost-but-not-quite compatible with the GPL, well that's just asking for grief. RMS will realize that too once he releases the GPLv3.

I still hate left-over old-style BSD licenses, which due to the ad clause is incompatible with the GPL. You want to create a OSS project, either license would be fine with your code. Except the parts you need are on different sides of a fence. Pick one. What good does that serve? While I understand the need for different licenses like GPL - LGPL - BSD, creating several licenses to serve the same purpose is a waste for everyone.

Kjella

Kjella

Re:GPL-compatible (4, Insightful)

marvin2k (685952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211486)

While I understand the need for different licenses like GPL - LGPL - BSD, creating several licenses to serve the same purpose is a waste for everyone.
What worries me is that most people seem to be so fixated on the GPL that they don't realize that this license simply doesn't work for everybody. I think there need to be three "template licenses" instead of one:

One "I only want to make my work available to other open source authors" license (GPL).
One "It's ok if my work becomes part of a non-open-source product but I still want that people contribute any changes to my code back to the community" license (LGPL).
And finally one "I don't really care" license (BSD).

I think trying to force everyone to use the GPL simply *has* to end in things like the CDDL because the companies don't feel they have any other choice.

Re:GPL-compatible (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211579)

they don't realize that this license simply doesn't work for everybody
On the contrary: I think they realize very well the implications of the GPL, but they have raised ethical concerns to the level of a zero-sum game.
However, I don't see how anything less than such a viewpoint can keep a market going, given the tendency towards monopolies, and the indifference of the government towards those monopolies.
Maybe if we put all of the extreme characters in a room and force them to watch Barney until they agreed to get along...

Re:GPL-compatible (2, Interesting)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211885)

All three of the licences you list are compatible with the GPL.

Re:GPL-compatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212306)

All three of the licences you list are compatible with the GPL.

Only if the resulting codebase is GPL, folks! Learn before you speak!

Re:GPL-compatible (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211375)

The GPL is a neutral copy-left. It doesn't give special rights to the "initial developer". It's well understood, there's a large body of code licensed under it, and whether you agree with the politics behind it or not, it's a good baseline for those who want a copy-left license.

Why is this important? Because most developers want compatability with some common license. If the MPL and CDDL were compatable with the GPL, then there would be ways of mixing code licensed under one with the other.

Not having compatability harms Freedom. It means that you cannot "use" code under circumstances that most Free Software advocates, and probably most Open Source advocates, would consider reasonable and a requirement for software to be considered Free or Open Source.

Yes, it doesn't have to the GPL. But there are no other real candidates. The BSD license doesn't do it because it has no requirement that further conditions be eliminated, so while BSD code can go in an MPL project, the fact the CDDL is compatable with the BSD license doesn't mean CDDL code can go into an MPL project.

Other licenses are, for the most part, more obscure and are no better than the GPL, or are not neutral. Some are even incompatable with themselves as they grant special privileges to an "Initial Developer", which means two projects under such licenses with different initial developers cannot share code.

So for the time being, GPL compatability needs, as far as many people are concerned, to be the baseline test of whether a license is a good one, regardless of whether - on the surface - it is "too political".

If you hate the fact that software can be called Free or Open Source and yet you can't use code from one project in another, you should be opposed to incompatable license proliferation. Incompatable licenses are killing Free Software.

Re:GPL-compatible (1)

asaul (98023) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211777)

Have you stopped to consider that it is the GPL that is incompatible with the other licenses, not the other way around?

For example, you can mix and match code from CDDL, BSD and MPL all you want, there are no restrictions in that regard. When you throw GPL in, you have to license the entire kit and kaboodle under GPL.

Now, if that is a good or bad thing is an entirely seperate debate - while I dont agree in general with the locking up of code, I do understand there are reasons why some entities may not want that to be the case.

Example - a company works with an OSS project and contributes code back on a regular basis. They have an opportunity to provide the project with support for a new deice, but the information they can do this with is covered under an agreement that prevents them releasing the code for this device. Under BSD or CDDL, no problem, they are not required to provide the code. Under the GPL, they cannot do this - development is stifled. Of course, the root of the problem is the locking down of the required information - but often we are talking buisness and competition issues i.e the real world.

Not a bash of the GPL, just pointing out that one size doesnt fit all.

Re:GPL-compatible (1, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212045)

Have you stopped to consider that it is the GPL that is incompatible with the other licenses, not the other way around?
Apologies for sounding pedantic here, but this is incorrect. The GPL cannot be incompatable with the CDDL and MPL without the MPL and CDDL being incompatable with it. It's obviously silly to describe one as incompatable with the other but not the other way around. The MPL and CDDL most certainly are incompatable with the GPL.

If you badly worded the above, and meant the emphasis should be on the GPL in terms of where the problems are coming, my entire posting addresses that: The GPL is neutral, it requires the imposition of no further restrictions, and therefore is one of the few players in town that qualifies as a legitimate baseline FOSS license for licenses to aspire compability with. The same is not true of the CDDL, MPL, or non-copyleft licenses such as the BSD and X11 licenses. The former are not project neutral. The latter do not prevent more conditions being attached, which essentially makes them useless from an interoperability point of view.

For example, you can mix and match code from CDDL, BSD and MPL all you want, there are no restrictions in that regard.
No, you can't.

The MPL is not compatable with the CDDL and vice versa. You cannot use code from an MPL project in a CDDL project. In fact, the licenses get legally problematic even when you try to combine code licensed under the same license from two different projects sourced by two different "Initial Developers". So not only is the MPL and CDDL incompatable with the GPL and each other, but frequently not even themselves!

When you throw GPL in, you have to license the entire kit and kaboodle under GPL.
There really isn't a lot of difference in the case of the MPL and CDDL. Both require that any relicensing be done under a license that imposes the same restrictions and grants. Essentially they're saying "You can relicense this under any license you want, as long as it's this one, or a rewrite." Most additional rights granted are, in any case, a re-statement of copyright law.

The real problem with both is that both try to elevate the initial developer to a special status. While it might be understandable, it's by design going to create problems getting multiple projects to cooperate. As soon as you say "This license does something special if {something that's project specific}", then you're into incompatable licenses.

Example - a company works with an OSS project and contributes code back on a regular basis. They have an opportunity to provide the project with support for a new deice, but the information they can do this with is covered under an agreement that prevents them releasing the code for this device. Under BSD or CDDL, no problem, they are not required to provide the code. Under the GPL, they cannot do this - development is stifled. Of course, the root of the problem is the locking down of the required information - but often we are talking buisness and competition issues i.e the real world.
In the situation you describe, the "fault" doesn't lie with the GPL. There's nothing stopping the developers - as a group, all of them who have contributed code - from saying "Yes, we'll do this closed source thing for this particular module", because the developers own the copyrights, and can agree, as a group, to dual license. This, of course, doesn't mean the developers will, it may be - shock horror - that the developers are opposed to their work being used in proprietary code, which leaves the company that wants to restrict the information used for the device driver the major stumbling block.

The CDDL, incidentally, doesn't allow this any more than the GPL does with the possible exception (and the CDDL is actually vague here, which makes matters worse) of the "initial developer" who gets some special rights. Both the MPL and CDDL are so-called "weak copylefts".

The problems described here have nothing to do with the GPL. If the CDDL and MPL were the only copyleft, weak or strong, licenses in existance, we'd still have the same problem. Actually, no, we'd have worse problems, because no project-neutral license would exist. So given that, given also that the GPL has been around for a long time so, as a matter of timing, the decisions the MPL and CDDL groups made have had more impact on incompatability than the decisions RMS made, I think it's manifestly fair to put the emphasis on the problems in the MPL and CDDL.

I'm not saying the GPL is perfect, but it's less guilty than either of the above, and - like I said originally - there simply is no other serious candidate for baseline intercompatable license at the moment. It's very fair to reject the CDDL on the grounds of GPL incompatability.

Re:GPL-compatible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211408)

We can also rule out any license that calls itself "Trusted"... that word is so abuse and debased (Trusted computing my ass) that there's no fucking way I'm ever associating any software with it.

Corporate agenda not worse? Really? (3, Insightful)

Danuvius (704536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211464)

Licenses pushing a corporate agenda aren't really any worse than the GPL which pushes a political agenda.
You must have a fascinating moral paradigm.

I, for one, think that political agendas that aim to benefit people at large (and have a track record of success at doing so) are less immoral than corporate agendas that seek to enrich their investors at the expense of unwitting customers.

Re:Corporate agenda not worse? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211920)

On the other hand a lot of GPL'd code has had the support of tax dollars and corporations, so the distinction is not that clear.

Re:GPL-compatible (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211593)

Since when was the GPL the pinnacle of open source licensing anyway?

When Linux (speaking of the kernel) became the flagship opensource project the GPL became the pinnacle. Linux brought a huge number of people into Unix and gave them a political orientation that while somewhat hostile to the FSF as "leader" was very congruent with their philosophy.

Today:

1) The GPL is far and away the most common open source license

2) Projects that were not previously GPL have converted over, Mozilla (the project) being the most important example. That is there has been a shift towards even greater adoption.

3) Licenses which are not compatible with the GPL tend to receive very little community support.

If that isn't the pinnacle what is?

Flagship (-1, Troll)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211985)

"When Linux (speaking of the kernel) became the flagship opensource project the GPL became the pinnacle."

So you're saying that Linux was the first galaxy-class open source project, being the flagship and all.

By the way, does Linux use isolinear circuitry or the newer bio-neural gel packs?

Re:GPL-compatible (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212016)

I think that the public focus, at least towards open source software, has shifted to see firefox as the most glaring example. Still GPL IIRC, so the point is moot, but as far as i can see, firefox has more users than linux will for a while.

Re:GPL-compatible (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212199)

Linux brought a huge number of people into Unix and gave them a political orientation

No, fuck that. I don't look to my COMPUTER OPERATING SYSTEM for a "political orientation", and neither should anyone. I look to an OS to make my computer usable. EOM.

(Go ahead and mod me down for speaking so bluntly, I've got Karma to burn...)

Re:GPL-compatible (3, Informative)

eviltypeguy (521224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211822)

Technically, it's the GPL that's incompatible with the CDDL, not the other way around. This is because the GPL states that the other code can't have any additional requirements basically.

Just a technicality...

Anarchy does not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212161)

The turkeys are coming home to roost. The anarchy of OSS/GPL/et.al is breaking down. The notion that one can give away one's work product and still make a living is proving absurd. In the final analysis, someone must own the work product and that someone must control it. If you don't own your own work product, you are nothing but a slave.

I much prefer to develop my software from scratch and pay for the right to use an OS, its libraries, and its services. I refuse to tie my software to a pile of disorganized work product and thereby abandon rights to by work product simply because I used a minor snippit of someone else's so called free software.

Sure, I must reinvent the wheel but its easier and cheaper for me to do that than to search for and use GPL'ed and the like software. Especially when most of the stuff that's worth anything for my purposes can be developed from scratch with less effort and time than it takes to find it and figure out how to use it.

We need one licence (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211039)

Seriously. There are just too many licences. We need to do away with all of them but one. The CDDL is a clear and very well thought out licence which we should be encouring more developers to use. It would neatly solve all this silly bickering. It would mean that Debian could close the legal mailing list and get back to doing some real work. It would stop silly GPL v's everyone else flamewars on Slashdot. It's just common sense.

Re:We need one licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211074)

We need to do away with all of them but one

Why?

I really hope you are trolling here.

Restricting OSS to one license would signal its death knell. OSS is meant to be free and open, to restrict the ability to interprate that is, IMHO, ridiculous.

Re:We need one licence (2, Insightful)

dallaylaen (756739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211397)

There are too many "The Only Right Ways To Go". Some of them are wrong. And some aren't even ways to go!

No we do not need *one* license.

BTW, if GPL ceased to exist somehow, the CDDL vs BSD flamewars will spread. Some people tend to like flamewars...

Kudos for some simplicity (4, Interesting)

syntap (242090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211041)

proposing a "three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated.

With all the nuanced licenses appearing, this is good to see. Then again for my needs all I want to know is GPL-compatible or not.

Countdown to the 2010 effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212027)

In 2010, there will be the first round of contingency fee based lawyer for hire legal assaults on small and medium software companies for alleged gpl violations.

This will be done solely to punish competitors and/or extract fees for the lawyerS.

Actual impact (4, Insightful)

danbond_98 (761308) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211043)

But the question really is, how much do people care about this? There seem to be a couple of licences most open source softwares use, being the GPL and the BSD licences, and only odd examples use others. Yes, the big big things like apache and the like have their own licenece, but for most people writting a small application, as well as a lot of larger projects, those two seem to cover it.

Re:Actual impact (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211250)

Maybe a little more complicated, given that the FSF lists [fsf.org] some 80+ licenses, documentation related ones not included.

CC.

Re:Actual impact (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211346)

Can't speak for anyone else, but for myself, I care about the Artistic License, which to me has always seemed a very nice middle ground between BSD and GPL. I'd be sorry to see it drop off the OSI-approved list.

Re:Actual impact (1)

Flamekebab (873945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211386)

Speaking from the point of view of someone less deeply engrossed in the geek culture, I'd like to say that these licenses confuse the hell out of me.

GPL? BSD? I mean, to me it means very little. Then again, it may well be important, but it'd be nice if we could see some sort of umbrella license that made it all clear to normal people. Free, open source, software should have a clear explanation of the terms in simple language, this way it'd be more likely that people would read them, instead of just clicking "I Agree". All these acronyms confuse lots of people!

Re:Actual impact (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211477)

Speaking from the point of view of someone less deeply engrossed in the geek culture, I'd like to say that these licenses confuse the hell out of me.

GPL? BSD? I mean, to me it means very little. Then again, it may well be important, but it'd be nice if we could see some sort of umbrella license that made it all clear to normal people. Free, open source, software should have a clear explanation of the terms in simple language, this way it'd be more likely that people would read them, instead of just clicking "I Agree". All these acronyms confuse lots of people!


"Normal people" can very easily read the licenses in question on the OSI site [opensource.org] or one of about a bazillion other sites, as well as lots and lots of commentary. These licenses are, in fact, much simpler than all the garbage Microsoft et al. throw at you above the "I Agree" button -- and even better, with open source programs, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you don't have to click an "I Agree" button to use the software! As a rule of thumb: if you write or distribute software, you should pay attention to the differences between the licenses; if all you do is use it, it's really not important.

And this is really not a geek culture issue; it's a business law issue, about an aspect of that field which happens to be mostly the concern of geeks.

Finally, if we use acronyms a lot, it's because typing out the full names gets tedious. If you want to engage in the discussion in a meaningful way (which, given your user name, I doubt ...) then you should spend the requisite, I don't know, ten minutes or so to learn the terminology.

Re:Actual impact (0)

Flamekebab (873945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211721)

Thanks, really friendly. My name isn't any referrence to trolling or flaming. I chose it about four years ago and it stuck.

It is part of geek culture, because it is something geeks care about a lot it would seem. It may well also be part of other areas, but I don't see most people understanding or even caring about the issue.

Just about anything, short of perhaps an advanced network security manual, could be simpler than the license agreements MS and co throw at us. I would definitely agree that open source licenses are simpler. However, you seem to misunderstand - I am quite geeky. If I find it to be this way, what will normal users think?

Perhaps by being part of this discussion I hoped to learn about the licenses in a meaningful way which I might remember, instead of trawling through assorted websites? Some of us find it easier to learn in different ways from others.

Seriously though, I'm quite new to slashdot and I've behaved as well as could be expected and yet I still get treated like crap. What more do you guys want? I'm not calling you names or telling you to get a life, I'm just saying that if such issues are to be understood by a larger number of people, there needs to be a simple interpretation of them, as people are often completely clueless as I'm sure you know if you think about it.

Re:Actual impact (0)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211900)

Sorry. Understand that on /., there are a lot of people who deliberately drop well-written trolls into discussions (as opposed to the endless flood of crap that can easily be spotted) and often put the fact that they're deliberate trolls into their user names. I actually started writing my response before I saw your user name, and then thought, Oh, hell, I'm being trolled, but I started writing this response and don't want to waste it, so here goes.

Anyway.

It is part of geek culture, because it is something geeks care about a lot it would seem. It may well also be part of other areas, but I don't see most people understanding or even caring about the issue ... I am quite geeky. If I find it to be this way, what will normal users think?

The point I was trying to make is that no matter how geeky the subject may appear, it still belongs in the realm of business law rather than, say, the fine points of writing readable Perl code. ;) And it's complicated, therefore, because the law is complicated. Writing open-source licenses that will stand up to the scrutiny of the hordes of lawyers BigSoftwareCo. Inc. has as its disposal is a real accomplishment. (And there's no guarantee that anyone has actually succeeded yet.) Am I happy with this state of affairs? Of course not; IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer, in case you haven't picked up on that abbreviation yet) and have no desire to become one. But I do desire, very much, to protect the software I write from what I consider abusive business practices -- and like it or not, that means speaking the lawyers' language, at least to a degree.

And talking about it, like it or not, requires speaking the geeks' language, because you're quite right that it's mostly geeks who care. Look, I'm sorry that you've been treated poorly, and I'm sorry that I'm one of the people who has done so. But you have to understand that every culture has its own language, and coming onto /. complaining about the use of terms like "GPL" and "BSD" is kind of like going to a medical conference and complaining that everyone is using lots of Latin words.

If I point you to a particular site (and the OSI site to which I linked in my previous post really is an excellent resource for anyone who cares about this issue) it's because I think that they've done a better job of explaining things than I can. You're right that you should be able to learn about the issue from online discussions, here and elsewhere, but part of the learning process is taking people's advice about how to learn.

Re:Actual impact (3, Interesting)

CDarklock (869868) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211383)

I think there's one major faction which isn't covered by GPL and BSD, where people don't want their software redistributed in modified form. OSI recognises this and provides for it by allowing licenses which require redistribution to be in P3 format (Pristine Plus Patches), but there's no real consensus on one license that covers this need.

There are a lot of companies who agree completely with the idea of releasing source code, but really dislike the "unrestricted redistribution" thing. A solid industry-standard P3 license would alleviate some of their fears, and could get more projects out there in the open source world.

Re:Actual impact (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211640)

Are company's with this opinion OK with people taking parts of their code and creating similiar projects?

If so: Then how is this different than a heavily modified version? If the issue is the name then why not just use trademark protection (i.e. you change it you have to call it something else)

If not: Then what is the virtue of making it open source in the freedome sense at all? Why doesn't the company just retain all rights and redistribute "official versions: themselves?

Re:Actual impact (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211384)

the GPL and the BSD licences ... those two seem to cover it.

I guess for most people. Personally, I'd like a license that lets me release code to the public and allow royalty-free distribution, but I don't want the GPL problem of people being able to take over my project (1), nor the BSD problem of companies being able to profit from my work (2).

(1) - I wouldn't want someone like X.org taking a previous version of my software and forking it, effectively destroying my userbase -- for any reason other than discontinuation of my software. Even if they added features I didn't have. Even if their software was better than mine. Call that greedy if you want, but I don't think it's unreasonable to want to control your work to avoid dillution of strict standards it follows [think incompatible themes/formats/whatever between various alternative versions of your software], and control over the direction your application progresses towards.
Given the open source code, I wouldn't mind people using it as a reference for an original from-scratch project, nor for personal modifications.

(2) - Not much needs to be said here. I wouldn't want Microsoft or whoever to benefit from my code without compensating me for my efforts. Nor would I personally want to be compensated for what is, ultimately, a hobby to me.

Re:Actual impact (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211676)

Those sorts of licenses exist. They start with XYZ retains all rights. Then you specifically grant some feature like:

1) You have the right to redistribute without cost
2) You have the right to use this project for learning

etc...

But that's a commercial license not a free license so it doesn't come up.

Re:Actual impact (3, Interesting)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211954)

Given requirement (1), why bother use an open licence at all? If you can't fork, why bother opening in the first place? If I can't improve it without your say-so, it's not really open.

Re:Actual impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212053)

Well, he could still provide the source. Then his software would be open in the true sense of the word. Being open has nothing to do with forking except in the double-speak world of open/free software.

Re:Actual impact (1)

Ithika (703697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212177)

But the whole point of its openness is that you should be able to adapt and improve on it, even if they abandon it/die/get taken to prison/sacrificed to the gods.

Re:Actual impact (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212245)

Your "no forks" idea is pretty much incompatible with the whole idea of open source, not just the GPL. "Here's my code, don't use it" isn't open source.

Re:Actual impact (1)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211718)

the LGPL is an important license too. if you write a library and dont want those corporate types using your code without releasing the changes, but want them to beable to link with it (GTK for example), the LGPL is very useful.

licensing-nonsense (4, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211048)

Free licence are free, and if they aren't, they shouldn't be portrayed as such.

We're not going into that debate again, I hope? the same thing with "which is more free: BSD or GPL".

There is NO difficulty here: BSD, by nature, is more free, yes. But to *keep* it free, GPL is better suited.

And such is the case with all 'open' licenses: some may be more free, others may suit some particular need better.

Re:licensing-nonsense (1)

wxprojects (814030) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211341)

Of course, if you really want it to be free you make it public domain :). Avoids all the licensing nonsense except in a few odd countries like Japan. GPL is more "forced freedom" rather than freedom in and of itself...

indeed (1)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211474)

I agree with your statement, which is why I said BSD is, on itself, more free then GPL, BUT the latter makes more sure things stay free.

This always brings with it some form of dilemma. It's the same with being a libertarian and to allow others to express themselves: will you go so far as to allow that expression of someone else to curtail yours (or of a third party?). In my view, this is not a good thing. The core element of free speech/expression is that it has to remain free, and THAT is what you have to fight for.

another example: On itself, a country of pacifists wouldn't last long among countries of agressors, unless they have muscle and willigness enough to fight off those other countries.

So, sometimes, it's better to fight for the principles you believe in, so they are preserved. After all, of all things, it's better to be forced more freedom then anything else. (and, within a society, one is ALWAYS forced to something).

Re:licensing-nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211429)

BSD is only more free if you want to lock the code away. BSD is very far from free when it comes to the users.

BSD is note more free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211485)

BSD give freedome to distributors will
GPL give freedome to the users.

One isent better then the other. just pick
witch freedome you care more about.

-Bob

Re:BSD is note more free (3, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212007)

Actually - I'd argue that GPL gives more freedom to the original developer. That is the freedom to use all derived works.

The original BSD developer for the TCP stack has no access to the MS implementation of that stack - since they slapped a proprietary license on it.

On the other hand, the original GLP developer of linux code has full access to the Linksys implementation of it - since Linksys is compelled to release updates.

You will note that while companies love BSD-licensed projects (since they can just steal code from them), they rarely distribute their own works under the BSD, and that limits your ability to profit even more than the GPL, and arms your competitors with your technology. Companies only release under BSD if they don't care about the code at all, or if it is a reference implementation of something that they actually want everybody to just use as widely as possible - probably because it interfaces with some expensive proprietary product.

BSD does let you do more with the code, but GPL does more to protect the open source community, and to protect the original developer - and that is the person whose blood, seat, and tears were invested in the first place...

Look closely (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211049)

When one looks closely at these licensing issues, one discovers that it ia always about the money and control. I will admit bias here. I read all the links with the bent mind toward the belief that it's always about the money.

Re:Look closely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211235)

The big issue for most of the corporations is the risk of losing money. The reason that each corporation that wants to get involved with OSS writes their own license is because they hire lawyers to look at the licenses and they freak out. Thus, they go and write their own license to cover the risks that they see.

Re:Look closely (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211291)

It would be better if you provided examples of the risks one could see in an assumed example of an Open Source License. It is correct to modify your last sentence to read..."Thus, they go and write their own license to cover the percieved risks that they apparently see."?

OSI Relevant To Whom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211050)

Is there anyone who has any interest in what the OSI does or says?

Re:OSI Relevant To Whom? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211469)

I ask myself that from time to time: why do I bother to put so much work into OSI? But there are enough people who respect the "open source" name, and who look to us for guidance on it, that I am enheartened. Of course, *you* are not likely to be one of those people, but so what?
-russ

failzOr5 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211058)

Steadily 7ucking was at t4e same partner. And if [anti-slash.org]

The great thing about standards... (5, Funny)

00squirrel (772984) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211076)

...is there are so many to chose from!

Re:The great thing about standards... (-1, Offtopic)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211340)

Hi bill.

Re:The great thing about standards... (0)

Flamekebab (873945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211407)

Kinda like the Gentoo of licensing..

more than two? (2, Interesting)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211098)

Not to ask a stupid question (I know there are no stupid questions, just stupid questioners), but:
Exactly how many open source licenses are there? When I first started looking at open source, I only knew of GPL. Then I learned of BSD. Up till now, I was under the impression that those two were the only open source licenses.

Re:more than two? (1, Informative)

Antity-H (535635) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211142)

from http://www.opensource.org/licenses/ :
Academic Free License
Adaptive Public License
Apache Software License
Apache License, 2.0
Apple Public Source License
Artistic license
Attribution Assurance Licenses
New BSD license
Computer Associates Trusted Open Source License 1.1
Common Development and Distribution License
Common Public License 1.0
CUA Office Public License Version 1.0
EU DataGrid Software License
Eclipse Public License
Educational Community License
Eiffel Forum License
Eiffel Forum License V2.0
Entessa Public License
Fair License
Frameworx License
GNU General Public License (GPL)
GNU Library or "Lesser" General Public License (LGPL)
Lucent Public License (Plan9)
Lucent Public License Version 1.02
IBM Public License
Intel Open Source License
Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer
Jabber Open Source License
MIT license
MITRE Collaborative Virtual Workspace License (CVW License)
Motosoto License
Mozilla Public License 1.0 (MPL)
Mozilla Public License 1.1 (MPL)
NASA Open Source Agreement 1.3
Naumen Public License
Nethack General Public License
Nokia Open Source License
OCLC Research Public License 2.0
Open Group Test Suite License
Open Software License
PHP License
Python license (CNRI Python License)
Python Software Foundation License
Qt Public License (QPL)
RealNetworks Public Source License V1.0
Reciprocal Public License
Ricoh Source Code Public License
Sleepycat License
Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL)
Sun Public License
Sybase Open Watcom Public License 1.0
University of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License
Vovida Software License v. 1.0
W3C License
wxWindows Library License
X.Net License
Zope Public License
zlib/libpng license

Re:more than two? (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211155)

FWIW, anyone who needs a fairly reasonable list of licenses will find a reasonable collection, with related discussion, here [fsf.org] .

The OSI has a list of "approved" licenses here [opensource.org] , but it's literally just a list (no explanation of the differences or analysis of their implications), and I get the impression the OSI is regretting approving so many of them, given most of them are incompatable with one another (some of them can be incompatable with themselves, depending on the precise circumstances!)

Who cares what CA thinks? (4, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211143)

Why is CA involved in this in the first place?

Their #1 revenue model is to buy a software product from someone else, cut development and rake in maintenance checks. Are they branching out?

Re:Who cares what CA thinks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211194)

Microsoft and CA have close relations. Bringing in more "FOSS" licenses is not going to unite anything. It's just to split the scene - to make GPL less powerful. License wars are here.

Re:Who cares what CA thinks? (-1, Offtopic)

PenguinBoyDave (806137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211342)

Ah...I was waiting for the obligatory CA basher. Thank you...I was waiting for someone to show their ignorance.

Not "GPL Compatible"? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211152)

CA won't let its developers use even LGPL libraries (except on Linux platforms). I always found their OSI involvement a little premature...

Why CA? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211158)

Can someone give reason why CA should be solving FOSS license issues? Why is it an authority? Why not ask directly from Microsoft for a good suggestion on the next GPL?

Re:Why CA? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211293)

California is the home, essentially, to America's computer revolution. Silicon Valley has been the hotbed of American computer R&D now for decades. While some developments have been outside of it (Microsoft managed to go from New Mexico to Washington State without ever touching CA, the IBM PC was developed in Florida (and it shows, piece of crap that it was), etc), by-and-large it's CA ingenuity and know-how that has gotten computing to where it is today.

So it's the natural US State that should have authority over open source licenses. If you're going to get something regulated, it makes sense it's a democratic government, not a bunch of corporate drones like the OSI, and I think most of us would rather it be California than something Federal.

Re:Why CA? (1)

Naosuke (662973) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211347)

CA is Computer Assoiciates in this topic not California.

Different licenses are fine (2, Interesting)

NerdHead (35767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211164)

Licenses are important but different developers see licenses differently. I think it is rational to offer a license of choice by the author of the software. I wouldn't want a standards committee telling me what my license should be and I wouldn't want a RIAA/MPAA-type organization either. While I'm at it, why make a license compatible with another? If I want my license to be compatible with GPL, why not just use the GPL? The BSD vs. GPL is a matter of what freedoms one wants in their license. As long as there is a license to protect the author, it should be fine.

STATE OF THE UNION.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211176)

I don't know what it is but the quality of slashdot has serverly dropped over the past few years... There is SO MANY DUPES now a days it's ridiculous. Even editors removing DUPES just to CYA (cough cough ZONK) show's a lack of integrity. I think it's time for this site to be dissovled and a new site come in it's place... I am afraid that the days of slashdot are OVER. It's time to begin anew....

component-based (2, Insightful)

kars (100858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211286)

Would it be feasible to define some standard groups of clauses for topics so you could just plug them together as components to get an actual license? Then you could just pick one out of several options for copying restrictions. Or if that's not possible, at least try to standardise it in some way. It'd make licenses a lot easier to read.

But of course, IANAL, so there's probably a very good reason why this hasn't been done. Or maybe it has and I'm just ignorant :)

Re:component-based (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211709)

That is exactly what CA means by a template system. A standard group of clauses. Except they are going further and having these clauses change in different countries so that they become meaningful in countries with different legal systems.

I Propose a 2 Tier system for TLAs (2, Funny)

tubs (143128) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211403)

For example, a TLA should be registered and if there are two TLA that are the same, then they should have a .x after them, where x is a number.

For example

OSI stands for Open Systems Interconnect, and OSI.1 stands for Open Source Inititive
PSP stands for "Paint Shop Pro" and PSP.1 stands for Play Station Portable.

Okay, it defeats the purpose of TLAs by making them FLA.2* (Five letter abbrieviations) but hey it's all too confusing!

* FLA stands for Finance and Leasing Association, and FLA.1 is Fair Labor Association.

Re:I Propose a 2 Tier system for TLAs (1)

menace3society (768451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212029)

Do you mean Theater of Living Arts or Three-Letter Acronym?

In other news... (2, Insightful)

HomerJayS (721692) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211468)

Lawyers around the world are gearing up to make millions of dollars/euros/yen/... litigating the nuances of the conflicting "Open Source" licensing models.

Corporate ownership of all that is revolutionary (4, Insightful)

sellin'papes (875203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211587)

It seems to me that corporations are struggling to find what is cool and then immediately take ownership of it. The CDDL open source is an example of this.

Open source is an extremely revolutionary idea and fairly unique in the history of the world and I would be concerned at how a major corporation would interpret and alter the concept.

Another example of corporate involvement in revolutionary ideas is Slashdot itself. Every time I view a forum discussion a message from friendly Microsoft pops up telling me not to switch my operating system from Windows to Linux. This message also prevents me from reading replies and thus altering my pleasurable Slashdot experience.

Re:Corporate ownership of all that is revolutionar (1)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211946)

...fairly unique in the history of the world...

Not really. The scientific community has been doing "open source" for several centuries. Even Eric Raymond pointed that out in one of his various books on the subject.

Re:Corporate ownership of all that is revolutionar (1)

sellin'papes (875203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212047)

I would be interested to see the connection that Eric Raymond makes. I guess my point is that the idea of open source may have existed in certain niches, but not to the public as a whole and to anyone who wants to contribute.

For instance if I were to have an idea several centuries ago, I doubt the scientific community would accept it, unless I too was a member of the scientific community. Cooperatives are an example of a an acient 'open source' based economy. But once again you had to be a member of the coop to take part.

What is unique about open source programming and even information sharing is that absolutely anyone can contribute, and if it's crap it's judged by absolutely everyone.

Re:Corporate ownership of all that is revolutionar (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212128)

I find that one problem is that Open source is not that revolutionary of an idea. When debating with my peers the advantages of Open Source, I sometimes have problems distinguishing it from communism.

My friends (and myself included) are very republican, and "Shared work by a community to reach a common goal" sounds very red to us. I can see how this model works in application to Free or Open Source software, but I have trouble explaining it to others.

Re:Corporate ownership of all that is revolutionar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212276)

Surely what you mean is that you and your friends are very capitalistic, rather than republican?

More like... (0)

shad0w47 (261033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211647)

this is more like the clash of the acronyms to me!

Open Source Confusion (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211702)

OSI is formed because they want to make free software more appealing to corporations by supressing essential discussions of freedom. This leads to a profusion of 'open source' licenses. Sensing opportunity in the confusion rapacious corporations hatch their own restrictive licenses and call them 'open source'. OSI responds by aligning more closely with GPL. There is a lesson here. To all of you 'open source' advocates, stop writing licenses! Use GPL and let Stallman think for you!

Understandable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212101)

...OSI prefers a solution involving stricter criteria (including that approved licenses must me non-duplicative, clear and understandable, and reusable)...

Pick any two...preferably without typos.

Sometimes spellcheck just ain't enough.

GPL compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212258)


Currently it is very "politically correct" to be GPL compatible, but do you know what that really means?

GPL compatible means that if you combine code under other licences with GPL code, the whole resulting code base must be released under the GPL! This is why people refer to the GPL as viral--it assimilates and eliminates other licenses as it's use expands.

Many people defending the GPL might not have realized these consequences. Just because they intended for their code to be open-source, they signed up for a political agenda, too.

For this reason, it is actually correct to say the GPL is not compatible with the CDDL, and not the other way around (the CDDL is explicitly not viral).

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