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Interview: Bruce Perens Answers Open Source License Questions

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the very-abstruse-but-important-stuff dept.

News 190

We sent a stack of questions to Bruce Perens earler this week, and here are the answers. But before you start reading what Bruce has to say and taking it as gospel, he has a reminder for you: "I have to make the disclaimer that I am not attempting to practice law. The advice I give is to help you formulate strategies for participatation in the free software community, you may still need to consult an attorney regarding how you implement those strategies."


From: Jason Hammerschmidt

Open Source Licensing, and the latest craze to go public (such as RedHat's IPO) sometimes have conflicting values. When public, you have to cater to your stock holders, this can easily conflict with the open source communities goals. Although you can build a business model around secondary and tertiary services such as support and manuals, etc. there will still be a conflict of interest at the center of it all. Most important, the philosophy and integrity of our community can be easily compromised and undermined by stock holders. The fact that our community has the same ability to acquire stock means little unless we own the majority of stock, and this is unlikely to happen. What, Bruce Perens, is your view on this subject? And how can we ensure the safety of our beliefs?

yes I know this is two questions :) and I also know this isn't a strictly licensing question, but it is very closely related.


You'll notice that a some of the companies that are already participating in free software development have been public-stock companies for a long time: IBM, and Apple, for example. Yet, these companies found a way to participate in Open Source. In IBM's case, it's making something of research-derived products it might not have been able to continue in development or market otherwise. In Apple's case, they're attempting to keep up with Linux - truly a daunting task - by being open too. Also, they are trying to return benefit they've already gotten from the community, and they might be able to open some secondary markets in the future from ports of their free software. You'll notice that when we had a problem with Apple's and IBM's original licenses, we used publicity to influence them. Public-stock companies are very sensitive to publicity because their stock price can go up or down depending on what people are saying about them. If their strategy is one that will prevent them from getting effective participation from the community, that won't help their bottom line and the market will notice.

There is no conflict of interest here - it's a quid-pro-quo. If the participation of the community is not important enough, the company will exit the free software arena.

Every for-profit company that participates in free software development will have to find a balance between its own needs and those of the community if it is to participate at all. I have a scale that I use to describe free software participants that runs from benefactor to symbiote to parisite. I'd put Red Hat in the symbiote position right now, NASA is a benefactor, and the parisites know who they are :-). Parisites eventually lose because the community is too eager to help out their competition.



To what extent have the various "free" and not-so-free licenses been evaluated by people with serious legal expertise? I hear charges against, e.g. the GPL that it won't stand up in court, that it's too vague, and other things of that ilk. Has the FSF ever had a crackerack patent (or whatever area of the law is involved) go over their license with a fine-toothed comb?


The GPL has actually had a good deal of evaluation. Richard Stallman has an MIT law professor who helps him, and there has been a law school thesis and some private analysis.There are definitely holes, but there's also evidence that it could be enforced. Ironicaly, the UCITA, a proposed U.S. "uniform state law" that poses us problems because places a ban on reverse-engineering, also has provisions that make the GPL and other free software licenses much eaiser to enforce.

One of the biggest problems with the GPL and all other free software licenses concerns the definition of a derived work. The definition of a derived work in copyright law is mostly concerned with print, film, and sound works, and was formulated before software came along. Thus, it doesn't say anything about how reference should be treated. For example, if you copy my function into your own program, it's a derived work. If you simply call my function without copying it, it's not a derived work according to U.S. copyright law, although you are having the exact same effect that you would if you'd copied the function. It's trivial to make any program a shared library or a callable object through object brokers like CORBA or COM, so you can easily circumvent license restrictions about derived works if you are considering copyright law alone. However, licenses are a combination of copyright law and contract law, and under contract law you can be restricted from performing certain activities that the software author might consider the creation of a derived work, activities that you would otherwise be permitted to do under copyright law. And of course, if you don't except the license, you have no right to use or copy the software at all. The problem is that the GPL doesn't really define what those activities are. That should change.

However, we don't generally have to go to court to enforce licenses, so they aren't getting tested for enforcibility in court, which is the only real test. Publicity is our primary enforcement tool, and it's surprising just how effective that has been so far.

I am soliciting attorneys to do pro bono work (donated work for the public good) to help address problems with licenses. There's a BOF about this at the LinuxWorld conference in August.



Hi Bruce,

I recently started programming open source software for Windows (due to my unfamiliarity with Linux programming), and organized various OSS projects under the title of "Neon Goat Productions". However, I don't feel that I have a good grasp on the ideas behind some more advanced licensing techniques. First of all, if I release software under the GNU GPL, or other licenses, do I (as the sole owner of the copyright) have the option to change the license later on, either to another OSS license, or a closed source license? I don't intend on doing anything like this, but I definitely want to have the ability to control the future of my work. Also, if I release a project under the GPL, am I allowed to use portions of my GPL'd code in an independent, commercial program? I don't want to end up rewriting the same code for another job, just because the licenses aren't exactly the same. Finally, I am a bit unclear on releasing software under two licenses (for example, having the choice between either the GPL or the Artistic licenses). Since the Artistic license is less restrictive than the GPL, what would be the difference if the software was only released under the Artistic license instead of having an either/or clause?


David Parker


If you are the copyright holder of a program, you may issue that program under any number of licenses simultaneously. While you can't take the GPL back once you release a GPL-ed version, there is nothing that compels you to release later versions under the GPL. But this is all ignoring the issue of other people's contributions to your program.

The situation is much more complicated when other people contribute. They own the copyright to their modifications.

You can deal with this in several ways if you want to keep the option to distribute your work under a different license:

1. Simply don't use their contributions in your commercial product.

2. Insist that they sign the copyright of the modifications over to you before you before you will put any of their modifications in your main source thread. This is what FSF does, so that they have the option to revise the GPL later on without having to go to everybody who made a modification and ask their permission.

3. Use a license like the Netscape Public License that gives you the right to distribute contributed modifications under other licenses. Note, however, that the NPL only requires that for modifications to your files, and that if somone creates a separate file and links it in, they are not required to give you the right to distribute that file under other licenses. Of course you can write your own license that says something different.

Regarding the Artistic license, I'd suggest that you do dual-license with the GPL if you choose to use the Artistic, becuase that makes it absolutely clear that your work can be united with other work that is already under the GPL to make one product. I also don't like the language of the Artistic license. I discuss why near the end of my article on the OSD.


from: Mike Moses"

Would it be rude, inconsiderate, or copyleft infringing for a group of midnight coders to gather together collectively and form a company with a name like 'Open Source Consultants' or some other derivative with 'Open Source' in the name?


If you use the name Open Source in the title of an organization, that organization should use only software licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition, and not any "Open Source Definition", I mean the one that the Debian folks and I wrote and that we all know and love :-). I'd object to an "Open Source Magazine" that advertised non-Open-Source products, for example, simply because it would act to confuse people about what is Open Source and what isn't. That would be inconsiderate. It wouldn't be copyright-infringing because we're talking about a trademark, not a copyright. Also, the status of that trademark is rather iffy right now: it's still a trademark, but currently has no federal registration pending.


from: John L Grantham

I note that the companies that you say deserve praise for their efforts, Apple and IBM, are both hardware companies that in effect happen to produce software. In both cases, they make far more money from their hardware than they do software, so in effect they have less to lose by giving an open source license a shot, but have much to gain in the form of increased sales of hardware.

But what about companies that are primarily in software? How do you see them making money off of open source, when that is after all their main motive--earning cash? In other words, why buy an open source package when you can download or copy it for free? Finally, are there any large "traditional" software companies (ones from before open source became a buzzword) that you see making commendable moves like IBM and Apple? Best regards, John a.k.a. Ethelred


Obviously, it's easy for companies that vend free software as an accessory to hardware to make money, because it's a lot easier to copy a disk than it is to copy a PC! Companies like VA Linux Systems come to mind.

If your business must primarily be software, not support, not anything else, you can't make everything free. This, for example, is the strategy of Sendmail Inc., which makes proprietary add-ons for the free sendmail mail delivery agent. Digital Creations, makers of the Zope web content management software, aren't quite a software pure-play: They give away their core software, and they sell services to customize that core to vertical markets for specific customers, newspapers for example. Some of that customization work may not make its way back into the free product. They have also announced some proprietary add-ons for Zope.

Yes, there is a large traditional software company making a commendable move. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who they are yet. It's not nice for me to pre-empt other people's announcements - I did that to Troll Tech once and they got (justifiably) very annoyed with me.


from: Bill Gladen

With all of the companies that are coming up with Open Source Definition compliant licenses, it is getting difficult to keep track of what the various licenses actually contain. Is there any work being done on a template license that companies could just post a delta of?; For instance, if you had an Open Source Base License O, which contained clauses A-N, then companies could just draft their license which stated "This license modifies O in the following ways: remove clause B, replace clause C with clause C', and add clause T."

I am certainly encouraging new entries to use one of the existing licenses rather than complicate the situation with another incompatible license. However, when the choice is having them make their own license or not release the software under an Open-Source-Definition-compliant license at all, I'd obviously rather see them release the software.

We are still in the learning period where companies are figuring out how to meet their own needs while participate in free software while meeting their own needs at the same time. This is sort of winding down now, and in a year or so we'll be able to get together and draft some standard licenses. I'd prefer not to have companies release deltas to a license, becuase that isn't much better than having them make their own licenses if the delta gets big. I'd just want some check-boxes for license options that would all be qualified under the Open Source Definition.


from: Corinna Cohn

Amiga, Inc. has recently anounced that they will use Linux as the kernel for their new operating system. They have said that they will make heavy modifications to the kernel. As far as I know, this is the first highly adultered distribution of Linux. Can you explain, of the changes they will make, what parts of the source code must be released back into the community?

Thank you,

Corinna Cohn

Unfortunately, I have not yet been contacted by Amiga, Inc., so I can't say for sure what they are doing. If they make modifications to the kernel in the form of modularized device drivers, they can probably keep those proprietary. I'd hate to see it, though. I'd prefer to see them contribute all of their modifications back to the community, and there is little reason for them not to, since they are selling hardware and their device drivers would probably not run on anything else. If they modify Linux in general, not just the device drivers, they are compelled to distribute the source for those modifications.

It would be silly for them to embrace Linux without the benefits of free software. That would be missing the point. I don't think they'd do anything that dumb.


from D. Dale Gulledge

One of the hot issues in open source development in general right now is the issue of licensing an open source project in such a way as to maintain a profitable niche for the company that created the product. The issue is a hot one for me because a former boss of mine approached me for suggestions on how to handle a project as open source within a corporate environment.

As an example, Troll Tech attempted to deal with the controversy over the non-free status of Qt with their QPL. My own interpretation of their solution and that of other companies is that they make their work free for use in other open source projects but not for commercial use. Much of the controversy has arisen from where the boundary is drawn, since there are several companies selling distributions of and support for open source software. Neither those companies nor a significant portion of the open source community wants to see a license that would prohibit them from offering distribution and support services.

My question is, what is the best model for an open source license to be used for software produced within a corporate environment? The problem is twofold. First, the license must be acceptable to the open source community or it is a failure both as an open source project and as a component of a business case. Second, there must be a business case for it.

-- Dale Gulledge, Sr. Developer, Nortel Networks
Also, the author of the Emacs Calendar/Diary Desk Calendar formatting code, team leader for the Esperanto translation team for the Free Translation Project, and host of the Linux Users' Group of Rochester.

I know both sides of the issue, but I don't yet have the answer.


If I were doing it, I'd release my software under the GPL, and I'd also offer it under a commercial license. This part's a bit complicated: I'd insist that people who wanted their modifications to go into my main source thread must sign a separate and independent copyright for those modifications over to me, while they'd also maintain their own copyright. In other words, each party would own the modification and would have the right to do anything they wanted with that modification without consulting the other party. That way, I'd have the right to issue modifications under my commercial license, but I'd also commit to release all modifications that were submitted to me under the GPL. Becuase I'm using a split copyright rather than license terms to get the rights to the modifications, I'm not putting any odious terms on code that other people write. I'd continue to be an active maintainer and architect of the product so that people would want to submit their modifications to me.

In my opinion, this is the best of all worlds. The software is always available under the GPL. It's also available under a commercial license from which I can generate revenue. My original contribution continues to be a big enough part that it doesn't make sense for someone else to come out with a clone, but if I ever go out of business or lose interest in the program, someone else can make a commercial clone, writing out my contribution, and can get the modifications from their contributors under the same terms that I did. Until I do go out of business, there's not much reason for contributors to deal with anyone else.

Circumvention is an important principle in free software. I feel OK about Red Hat selling my software becuase I can always circumvent them and sell it myself. The circumvention provision here might make developers more willing to contribute to a commercial product.

Sorry if this is a bit deep. I'd be happy to discuss it in more detail.



What licensing issues apply to older software written by now-defunct companies? Is there a point at which such software enters the public domain?

Software eventually enters the public domain, but it takes so long that no computer that can execute it The situation with software from defunct companies is a sad one. Someone always owns it, because in the case of bankruptcy, there's always a creditor (generally more than one) who assumes the property of the bankrupt company. So, the situation is that your old license still applies but you probably can't get any service or upgrades or enforce your warranty, and you might not even be able to establish who owns the software without an expensive legal search. But you still can't give away copies of that software without infringing on someone's property rights, and that someone might come after you to enforce them.

Big customers have tried insisting that their vendors place the source code in escrow, so that the customer will have rights to that source code if the company goes out of business or declines to fulfill certain responsibilities like upgrades and warranty service. That works great if you wield enough power that your software vendor will negociate with you, for example if you are the only customer for a particular product or if you are paying a very large sum. It doesn't work for anyone else. It would be nice if there were laws about source-code escrow that protected the little guy. It would also be nice if the terms of copyrights didn't run so long and thus work did enter the public domain within one person's lifetime. Every 20 years, the international copyright convention meets and makes the copyright term 20 years longer. This is an abuse of the intent of the original copyright law, which was meant to exchange legal protection for your work for your releasing that work into the public domain eventually.

Hey, these were great questions! I enjoyed this, thanks!

Bruce Perens

Editor's note: Bruce Perens' latest venture is the Web site TECHNOCRAT.NET

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Re:Attention Slashdot Poster/Editors ! (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773554)

This would be even more useful if it was archived somewhere outside of Slashdot. No hard feelingsRob ;-), but Slashdot is a news and opinion site to me.

Somehow an archive of open source thoughts seems to make more sense on a seperate site or at least seperate section.

Are there any open source FAQ's other than this one [] on

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773555)

Calling it a benefactor is a lower rating then calling it a symbiote.

Symbioses (like I can spell) is mutual benefit - two-way benefactors. Not only is linux a benefactor to rh (by linux, am referring to oscommunity), but rh is a benefactor to linux - both are benficiaries.

Re:Copyleft, Copyright, and IP (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773556)

> /usr/games/fortune -m lawyer|less

cd /usr/share/games/fortunes ; less law

(yeah yeah, offtopic :))

derivative works (4)

Josh Turpen (28240) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773567)

By reading this post, you agree to donate all of you assets into my bank account.

I agree I don't agree

Thank you for choosing I agree (I prefer direct deposit)... now continue...

It's trivial to make any program a shared library or a callable object through object brokers like CORBA or COM, so you can easily circumvent license restrictions about derived works if you are considering copyright law alone. However, licenses are a combination of copyright law and contract law, and under contract law you can be restricted from performing certain activities that the software author might consider the creation of a derived work, activities that you would otherwise be permitted to do under copyright law. And of course, if you don't except the license, you have no right to use or copy the software at all.

This has always been my qualm with the GPL. The restrictions on derivative works requires more legal power than copyright law alone provides. Enter contract law. Unfortunately contract law doesn't apply here. Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the contract. Using the software doesn't mean you agree to the contract. As an example, clicking "I accept" when the Windows EULA window pops up isn't a legally binding contract.

Even if that fails and somehow the contract becomes legal, all you would need to do, at least in the United States, would be to get an under 18 year old person to modify the text of the GPL to whatever you wanted. It is illegal for a minor to enter into a legal contract.

Be wary folks. The GPL is on shaky ground in the 'derivative works' area.

This page [] explains the problem more clearly.

Re:Not MIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773568)

Maybe he's a professor in the MIT Technology and Policy Program? Sounds like Open Source Liscensing would be right up their alley. See [] . Also, there is a directory structure built for the tlp (technology in/and law program?), but nothing substantial has been built out.


Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773569)

Um, Bruce, the term you want is "symbiant." Check out any general biology text, or think about the Greek....

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

innerFire (1016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773570)

First, thank you Bruce and Neuroid for your helpful answers.

But I must take issue with this:

They take value from the community

How can you take value from a community like ours? Everyone fully owns their copy of a free program, and copies cost near-zero resources to make. Red Hat took their easily-had, fully-owned copy of, say, wu_ftpd, and made it easier for me to use. The creator of wu_ftpd still has his or her original source tree. (No functions or variables were harmed in the making of this RPM.)

It's information. You can give without losing, accept without depriving others. Red Hat (indeed, any free software VAR) is only adding value (more free software, tools to make free software more convenient, support to make it more trustworthy, et c.).

I encourage all of you to 'take' from me as many copies of Gzilla [] as will fit on your storage systems. Go ahead -- send patches, make an RPM, put it on a CD. See if I care. ;)

Look to Copyright statute (3)

youngsd (39343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773571)

(FYI, I am an intellectual property attorney, but that is no guarantee that I'm right in any of my conclusions. Don't rely on any of this -- see your own attorney.)

In a software license agreement, if a term like "derived work" is not defined, I would assume that most courts would assume that it meant the same as the copyright term-of-art "Derivative Work". That term is defined in 17 USC Section 101 as:

A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

Okay, clear as mud.

The problem is that with software it is difficult to draw the idea/expression dichotomy that is at the heart of copyright law. Copyright law protects the expression of an idea. If you take that expression and change it, you probably have a derivative work (i.e. translate it to another language, make a movie of it, etc.). If you take the ideas from a work, and incorporate them in another work, the result is not a derivative work (think Romeo and Juliet -> West Side Story [and yes, I realize that Romeo and Juliet is not copyrighted]). In cases where there are few ways of expressing an idea (how many ways can you write a while loop?), the idea and expression are said to be "merged", and that particular expression is not protected by copyright. In software, much of the source code (to my way of thinking) is likely covered by this merger doctrine.

I tend to think that translating C code to pseudo-code is a lot like extracting the idea from a particular expression. Creating new C code from the pseudo-code (if the pseudo-code is really just the "idea") should constitute a new, non-derivative work. It is a difficult call, though, because (simply) copyright law was not designed for software, and it's doctrines do not fit well.

Anyway, I am aware that I rambled, and I can see that I have strayed from the point at least a few times. But it is Friday afternoon, and I am too tired to go back and edit my work.


(Too tired to think up a snappy sig-line)

Any other interviewees besides Perens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773572)

I like the idea of a reader generated interview. Now let's invite someone interesting for a change. Any suggestions?

Re:Not MIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773573)

It's Columbia.

Re:derivative works (1)

gocubs (21220) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773574)

I have a question about something that I've never really understood... I'm 15, so I guess I can't enter contracts, huh? Does that mean that if I had the desire and the ability, I could reverse-engineer Windows or something simply because I never agreed not to?

"Parisites"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773575)

Parisite is a funny way to spell Parisian.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773580)

I think this post by Roblimo sets the record for the most obvious spelling errors in a Slashdot article.

best viewed with lynx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773581)

given the length of a good many of the lines, use lynx to view this

Formatting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773584)

Why does Netscape have to format things like shit. This article is 8 screens wide, pertty annoying to try and read.

Other "Open Source" Luminaries (2)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773586)

Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

Eric "Curly Brace" Raymond
Richard "Square Bracket" Stallman
Larry "Vertical Bar" Wall

Put Hemos through English 101!

Lynx rocks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773588)

Heh, I use lynx fairly often because it just makes pages look much more sane. I was using lynx and didn't even notice that anything was messed up except that there didn't seem to be any line breaks between questions. Heh, images on the web are just a fad. ;-)

Way to "abstruse" for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773590)

'nuff said ;)

Re:best viewed with lynx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773592)

In fact... lynx is almost always the best way to see slasdhot.

Try this... alias slashdot="lynx"

Slashdot from the command line... beautifully. Ah Lynx... developed about three buildings away from where I'm sitting at the University of Kansas

Contract Law not valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773593)

The GPL is not a contract. There is no quid-pro-quo. The entire line of "reasoning" is flawed. The proper use of a program does not cause infection. The proper use of a library is to be called. It has no other purpose. If you don't copy it into your program and change its source, but just call it through COM or whatever, it is not a derived work, and Bruce admits it. His grasping for a "contract" where there clearly is none is a sad act of a desperate man.

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773594)

Bruce is an inveterate murderer of the English language, but that doesn't mean that he's always wrong. I don't know what this "symbiant" thing is that you've invented:
% look symbi | fmt
symbiogenesis symbiogenetic symbiogenetically symbion symbiont symbiontic
symbionticism symbiosis symbiot symbiote symbiotic symbiotically
symbiotics symbiotism symbiotrophic

Re:derivative works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773595)

Does that mean that Christiansen Condomization from gnu.misc.discuss actually works? Is that what Perens just admitted?

Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773596)

You write: "it's Bruce not Pruce, and when used with an apostrophe its Perens' not Peren's" But you're wrong about a zillion times. Your second "its" is wrong. And it's "Perens's" in the genitive form according to Strunk and White [] . An exception is made for forms such as "in Jesus' name", but I wasn't aware that you were apotheosis had completed enough for you to take such forms as your own.

Re:Twice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773597)

You write: "They mispelled your name twice".
And you misspelled "misspelled" once.

Re:Public domain (1)

matthewg (6374) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773598)

IANAL, but I imagine that since when something is public domain it means that its copyright is, at least for legal purposes, owned by the public. You can't take MetaFOO 1.5's copyright away from the public any more than you could take Windows'. Of course, you're free to use the source however you want and even sell MetaFOO commercially. You can even use, say, 100% of the MetaFOO source code in a completely new product which you own.

Hellooooo nurse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773599)

Thanks for the link pal.

Re:Public domain (1)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773600)

Not even that. "Public domain" == "do whatever the hell you want with it." This includes relicensing, and yes, you can even say you authored the thing.

In the case of most public-domain works, however, this is a non-issue. No one is going to believe I wrote Romeo and Juliet, for example. Likewise, nothing stops me from selling digital copies of that story, under an onerous license agreement. Heck, I can even mutilate Shakespeare's prose if I wanted to. It'd be largely an exercise in futility, however-- the work is already established.

PD is the absolute zero of IP protection.

Re:Read Carefully, then join the fray. (1)

cananian (73735) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773601)

So UCITA, in providing legislative teeth to "shrink wrap" licenses, may ironically make the GPL more enforcable? A poster below commented about copyright-vs-contractual law, but the point is moot post-UCITA, right?

Re:derivative works (1)

cananian (73735) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773602)

But UCITA makes this point moot (by providing legislative teeth to shrink wrap licenses), no?

Re:derivative works (1)

Sinner (3398) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773611)

Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the contract. Using the software doesn't mean you agree to the contract.

As I seem to find myself pointing out every other week, the GPL places restrictions on distribution not on use of software. That you do not appear to realise this does not lend credence to the rest of your arguments.

Re:derivative works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773612)

The GPL does not place restrictions on use. But to "use" a library is very different than to "use" a program. To "use" a library means linking to it. This is not infective.

Re:Way to "abstruse" for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773613)

Well, you got "abstruse" right, but "too" is wrong.
Other nice words are recondite and recherche.

Re:derivative works (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773614)

Actually, if you don't accept the license, the default is probably All Rights Reserved. Forget what the GPL does not restrict in that case.

Re:Twice... (1)

BadlandZ (1725) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773615)

I love ironiy, don't yew?

Yea, my spelling is really bad, bad enought that when I do anything important at all, I spell check twice, reread it twice, and get someone to read it over if I can. Luckily, slashdot posts don't rank that high on my "critically impoartant spelling chek lyst." ;-)

You make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773616)

Yes they profit from the software they write. But guess what, you get that software for free (in every sense of the word).

You make it sound like making money off of selling software is a bad thing. It isn't. Especially if they GPL what they write. This is why they are not parasites.

I think you people need to know the difference between being anti-commercial and anti-propietary. Anyone who is anti-commercial is admitting to being socialist. Wake up buddy, capitalism WORKS!

Re:derivative works (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773617)

Presumably you are the ward of an adult, who is responsible for your actions.

Re:derivative works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773618)

The Licence only applies to the distribution of derived works. It doesn't matter whether I accept it for things other than use. And linking does not a derived work create.

Re:You make no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773629)

If somebody is profiting from software, than there's something wrong. Time to get the FSF tax proposal out again, I guess.

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773630)

Well, my take on this is that if you make money from marketing something valuable that you got from our community for free, you have a moral responsibility to return value to the community. Some people are not able to see the moral dimension. I choose to consider that as their fault rather than my illusion.

Probably Corel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773631)

They are a long standing software company and will probably release some free software to be on good terms with the open source community when they ship their distribution. Don't think it would be Word Perfect though, that's their money maker.

Think about it, it makes sense.

Kevin Holmes

(Maybe I should log i again...)

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773632)

Nobody claimed Red Hat removes value from the community. But they're grabbing pieces and doing their own integration - nobody is handing these expressly to them on a silver platter, therefore they must be taking them.

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773633)

How can you "take" what's freely given?

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773634)

I don't think anyone who believes the GPL's infection to be "moral" to be standing in a place to lecture us on morals.

Re:Commendable move? (1)

wynlyndd (5732) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773635)

My guess is that it's another big port or release from Big Blue itself, IBM. What big program would the Linux community most like to see ported?

Incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773636)

You have two choices:
- You accept the license. In that case, you are bound by it.
- You do not accept the license. In that case, you are bound by traditional copyright law, and you cannot copy, modify, or do most anything else with the work.

One more minor point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773637)

For people crafting new licenses, be sure to include a clause to the effect of: "You may also, at your own discretion, treat this software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.0." You loose nothing, and gain a lot. Only accept contributions under your own license. This does not give people the ability to make commercial derivatives, so you still hold a monopoly there. You can protect the program from splintering through traditional trademark law (no one can call a derivative program "Netscape" or the executable netscape). You preserve all of your rights, but make the license much more accepted by the free software community.

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773638)

There are several people writing GPL'd code full time because of Red Hat. Considering how few Open Source jobs exist, I find it highly unlikely that code would be as far along as it is if not for them. They probably would have had to sink effort into proprietary software instead, as I must to pay my bills.

Of course they're doing it to profit from it - if they weren't, they'd merely be a charity. IMHO we're much better off creating business models that allow us to write Free Software for a living, rather than waste time on more proprietary garbage and donate precious free time with no reward. And why is Red Hat supposed to donate machines to have other people do work (and who, exactly) rather than do it themselves?

Re: Ward of an adult (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773639)

You can probably bet the bank that Johnny's mother did not read the license on that Mario XXVII package before Johnny tore open the shrink-wrap and fired it up. So is Johnny's mother still bound to the license? How can this possibly stand up in court? (That might be a rhetorical question; I'm too tired to know for sure)

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773640)

Just remember who's calling whom a parasite here, and who's actually putting food on the table and giving people a fun job and a good product.

You asked for it... (1)

ph43drus (12754) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773641)

Well, There is quite the significant difference between effect and affect...

Just as much as between except and accept. See your answer to ;)

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773642)

Like the guy / gal said, look in any biology text (though s/he did miss-spell "symbiont). But then, nobody in this discussion, including Perens, really seems to understand symbiosis, parasitism, commensalism, mutualism, etc., so it's understandable that the wrong term was used.

Re:Read Carefully, then join the fray. (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773643)

It all comes down to protecting your rights.

If you don't want someone to do something, you can ask, but they can ignore you. Or, you can write a licensing agreement and they can ignore you and write their own software, or do as you ask and use yours. That's perfectly free.

If you think the GPL restricts freedom, consider the use of a non-propogating license... If someone uses your (modified) code and don't release it at all, the users aren't getting any benefits of what you wrote. So, one clause intended to control the robber-barons of the world, or monopolistic practices. Your choice.

I'm with Bruce. I'm not going to be an unpaid employee of a company I wouldn't work for if they paid me!

Re:Any other interviewees besides Perens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773644)

> Now let's invite someone interesting for a change. Any suggestions?

Is the point of your comment simply to throw an insult? Since you did ask for it (suggestions, that is) here's one: If you can't be more generous, then please don't post.

Many ACs make interesting posts, so why should cowards suffer filtering oblivion for the sins of a few? Instead, though it may seem harsh, I'd like moderators to feel free to take off points for rude tone. Call it Slashdot tough love. :-)

my favorite speeling counter-flame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773657)

AaronM.Henne-mhm9x2- []

PleaseexcusemyoccasionalmanglingoftheEnglish&nbs p;language.
IamaSociopath,anddon'tcareenoughabout&nbsp ;youtolearn

my favorite speeling counter-flame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773658)

Aaron M.Henne- mhm9x2- []

Please excuse my occasional mangling of the English language. I am a Sociopath, and don't care enough about you to learn how to write more gooder.

my favorite speeling counter-flame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773659)

Aaron M.Henne- mhm9x2- []

Please excuse my occasional mangling of the English language. I am a Sociopath, and don't care enough about you to learn how to write more gooder.

Re:my favorite speeling counter-flame (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773660)

Here we have no face. Our words are who we are. They are our badge and our pride. It is by our words and our words alone that reputations are built. Or destroyed. The craft of the master is not learned quickly, nor easily emulated, and is recognized the world around.
If you choose to write like a demented child who defecates in his own bed, be not surprised that readers here should think you in need of a new diaper.

Re:Read Carefully, then join the fray. (1)

William Tanksley (1752) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773661)

I'm glad to have the GPL, but the very fact that UCITA helps it should serve as a warning sign that although its intention is good, and its results beneficial, its purpose is deliberately restrictive.

Let me rephrase that: the only thing that the GPL does which is not done by other licenses is take away people's freedom.

Perhaps this is pragmatic. But I believe that in the realm of morals, there's nothing worse than pragmatism.

The definition of open source makes no bones about its pragmatism, and I respect that. But FSF pretends to be especially moral.

If you really want to write free software, make it truly free. If you don't want someone to use your software in some special way (such as distributing it to teachers whom you'd rather not instruct on the finer points of source distribution), don't put it in the license -- instead, just ask politely.


Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773662)

But they also advocate putting punctuation in quotes even when the original material didn't contain it! I've heard of them, sure, I just think an Authority should think these things through more carefully.

Re:Read Carefully, then join the fray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773663)

I cannot but recall the Pharisees praying loudly in public places. Do not trust a man who boasts of his own morals, for had he any, they would be quietly clear to all who would regard him.

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

innerFire (1016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773665)

An author of free software gives the source to the community, fully knowing that one of the things the recipients could do with the source is make money. 'Here, make money with this if you like' is an inherent part of the gift.

There are no moral obligations being made, obeyed or denied here at all. 'It's your source too, now. Do what you want. Have fun.'

I am able to see the moral dimension -- that we should share what we learn with our fellows, and let them be free as long as they don't hurt us. This is the highest moral law, and I uphold it at all times.

VARs are bound by the licensing terms of the licenses of the software they use, but not necessarily by Bruce's Feelings on Money and Giving Back. They may well share your viewpoint, but we don't write software because we expect a present from [insert own VAR here]. A high percentage of users doesn't even submit bug reports. By your logic, most users are parasites: using, profiting from and enjoying free software. Is that really what you want to say?

If the recipient of my gift pays some of our friends to write more code, well, that's just icing on the cake -- but by no means required.

Freedom is good. Money is not evil (programmers love that Mountain Dew). Helping out your friends is good. Knowledge is good. VARs are good.

Re:Read Carefully, then join the fray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773667)

ya know, one of these AC's here is writes too good for a script kiddie. how come no name, rabbi?

Re:Contract Law not valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773669)

The proper use of GPL'd code is to be modified and used with other GPL'd code. The authors certainly sought to refuse to subsidize proprietary code (or else they used the wrong license).

Stallman really wanted to avoid any restrictions on use, but now that any program can be turned into a dynamically loaded library (and effectively linked into all manner of proprietary products against the authors' wishes), IMHO that's no longer feasible.

The vermin have finally found a way to steal our work without paying (in kind) for it, and we're almost as screwed as the BSD suckers until a new GPL stops them.

Re:Way to "abstruse" for me (1)

neuroid (6952) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773676)

Main Entry: abstruse
Pronunciation: &b-'strüs, ab-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin abstrusus, from past participle of abstrudere to conceal, from abs-, ab- + trudere to push -- more at THREAT
Date: 1599

: difficult to comprehend
- abstrusely adverb
- abstruseness noun


'nuff said

Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (3)

innerFire (1016) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773677)

Calling Red Hat Software anything but a benefactor is wrong. They pay people to write GPL'd code, and they sell a very high-quality software distribution for cheaper than Microsoft Windows 98 (that is, if you even feel like paying for Red Hat Linux at all, since you don't have to). What more do you want?

They are as dedicated to free software as Debian, even if they don't actually have a social contract. They pour all kinds of resources back into the community. Bottom line: Red Hat is a benefactor.

Bruce, if you get this, please make clear why you rated RHS as merely a symbiote. Thanks.

Any more? (1)

ethomas8 (20706) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773678)

I think this is an absolutely a great idea. I'm sure there were many more interesting e-mails. Is there any chance that Bruce will answer a couple of others? By the way, thanks for your insights Bruce!


Well I'll be damned. :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1773679)

I figured it was a combination of "abstract" and "obtuse" :)


/me slinks away

Read Carefully, then join the fray. (1)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773681)

Now that UCITA has passed, Open Sourced software will become more important, and in turn, a properly put together license (GPL) is absolutely necessary. The end user is going to want a License that isn't overbearing, and yet still offers consumer protection (to an extent.) Licenses such as the Microsoft EULA include consumer protection titles, but it's mostly to cover Microsoft's (or the respective company's) ass, and release liability.

-- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (4)

neuroid (6952) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773683)

I am not Bruce Perens, nor do I play him on TV. However, I think I know where he's coming from.

I think he's talking about the type of relationship between a company and Linux, not the amount that a company (or organization) has benefitted Linux. NASA would still be NASA without linux. Therefore it is a benefactor. NASA probably benifits from it's involvement with Linux, but Linux does not define what NASA is.

Redhat puts more into Linux, but Redhat would not be Redhat as we know it without Linux. You could also probably say that Linux would not be Linux as we know it without Redhat. That's what 'symbiotic' means. I think Mr. Perens would be the last person to bash Redhat...unless he's jealous because more poeple have heard of 'Redhat software' than 'Bruce Perens'. ;-)

Copyleft, Copyright, and IP (3)

Tiro_Dianoga (68651) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773685)

This is an excellent and timely piece, especially because of the coming RHAT IPO. Bruce is one lawyer I will brake for.

That last question depressed me a bit, considering all the millions (billions even?) of lines of code that will be lost, as time marches on. This reminds me of the library book CmdrTaco had that was out of print yet still locked up in a copyright. The book was of great importance to his work, but photocopying it would have been illegal, and hogging it it would have been to the detriment of others in his community who might have needed it.

The loss of IP is a great travesty of modern humanity. Imagine the great works of this century's intellectual and technical minds. Once these materials are gone, forget it. However well-written legislation that can protect both profitable business and the consumer might be a solution. But it needs to be executed concurrently in N. America and the E.U., and thats almost a meta-physical impossibility :)

But I have hope, and I'm pulling out my stationary pad right now.

/usr/games/fortune -m lawyer|less

Calling all /. pundits (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773686)

Here's a question for all you Peren's wannabes:

As mentioned in the post, the term "derived work" in the GPL license is not clearly defined. What if I were to look at some GPLd C code, translate it to pseudo-code, then translate the pseudo-code back to C code without refering back to the original source. Would this be a derived work? What if the code started in C but ended up in Perl?

Re:Formatting (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773687)

I reforamtted it manually. Now it looks better. :)

Re:Calling all /. pundits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773690)

that would probably be reverse engineering.

Re:derivative works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773694)

Ok here goes one semester of engineering law. When a person goes into a contract it is binding. However, if that person is deemed not to have understood the terms of the contract, by due of insanity, language difficulities, underage, then the contract is not binding.

What would happen is that you may fall into criminal law, when you do something illegal. You can reverse-engineer Windows. In fact we all can. That in itself is not illegal. Using reverse engineered code that is unaltered is illegal.

And here is the biggest kicker. I only need to change source code about 25% and then the original copyright does not apply. The reason is because two people may have the same thought and it is not possible to say who is right. Therefore if there is more than 25% difference then they are considered two pieces of work!!!!

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773695)

Posted by Synsthe:

RedHat isn't a symbiote. They're a parasite.

Here we go again. Atleast this guy has a name.

They pay people to develop GPL software only so that they can make profit off this software.

Companies survive by making money. It's the way things work, get over it. This doesn't make them bad by any means, this means they're doing business like any sane business would do business.

They have given nothing of real value back to the community.

No? They haven't given back a very newbie friendly distribution of Linux? They haven't aided in the development of various GPL software products that _you_ can download for _free_?

No, they haven't given back at all.

RedHat has donated no hardware,

Whose servers do you think and run on?

Taken from their site:

Red Hat provides web, FTP, and other Internet hosting services for open-source community projects, including:
exmh mailing lists
Alpha mailing lists (SANE archive)
BLINUX mailing lists (a project to enable visually impaired people to use Linux-based
operating systems)
Linux OS Security mailing lists
m68k, sun3, and sun4 development mailing lists
PAM mailing list
procps mailing list
uclinux mailing list
video4linux mailing list
CVS server for GNOME/GTK+/Gimp (

You were saying?

Their behaviour grows more and more like Microsoft's every day.

They are a parasite, period.


Mark Waterous (

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773696)

Posted by Synsthe:

On a side note, since when is somebody required to donate hardware before they're "worthy"?

Mark Waterous (

GPL 'virus' question. (3)

neuroid (6952) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773697)

I have a question:

GPL has been called 'virus-like' due to the fact that all 'derivitive works' must also be covered under the GPL. This fact has been pointed at as being one of the major 'evils' of the GPL. I have been told that, for instance, a device driver covered under the GPL, which is written for Linux, cannot be used in another kernel because it would 'infect' whatever kernel it is used in with the GPL. What do you guys think? Is this the way the GPL actually works? And if so, is it an unreasonable demand?

This is the answer I come up with:

A kernel that uses a GPLed device driver is not a derivitive work, because said kernel stands on it's own without that device driver. For instance, a kernel without support for a soundblaster awe-32 sound card is still a fully functional just lacks that specific piece of functionality. Of course, the driver itself is still under the GPL, so the source code for the driver must be released, etc. But the rest of the kernal is independant of the driver. If I'm right, however, what about things like the code for Linux's SMP functionality? A kernel is still a kernel without SMP...So can the SMP code be imported without infecting the kernel? You could keep breaking pieces off of the linux kernel until the 'new' kernel you are creating is almost entirely Linux GPLed some point it would become a derivitive work, yes? Or am I just confusing myself here?

Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773698)

"They pay people to develop GPL software......"

Uh, how does this make them a "parasite, period."? If they WEREN'T releasing this software being made "so they can make profit" under the GPL or some other non-corporate Open Source license then I could see your point. Releasing software under the GPL, BSD, etc. is inherently "real value". Making money is not intrinsicly evil only certain ways of making it. What do you do to pay for your beer and skittles? Are you a parasite as well? The best understanding I can get of your reasoning says that EVERYBODY who "makes profit" is a parasite. This may fly with extreme socialist/communist types but doesn't make much sense to anybody else.

Re:derivative works (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773699)

But a contract has damn well been broken if say a binary only Microsoft Gimp for NT was released. Does anyone think a judge would buy the following:

"That GIMP source code was really useful as a starting point for our value added product but we didn't agree with the license........."

The GPL regulates distribution for pragmatic reasons but the restrictions are not aimed at users and never were. The restrictions are aimed only at a particular type of developer. The word "parasite" was bandied about earlier. The GPL only restricts the freedom of "parasites" and I have no qualms with that whatsover.

Re:derivative works (2)

J. J. Ramsey (658) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773700)

> Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the
> contract. Using the software doesn't mean you
> agree to the contract.

But distributing it does bind you. This is a quote from Version 2 of the GPL (June 1991):

"You are not required to accept this license, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it."

In a nutshell, if you use the software for your own use and don't distribute it, you aren't bound to accept the GPL. Once you've copied and distributed the software, though, that means that you must accept the terms of the GPL since they are what allow you to copy and distribute in the first place.

Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773703)

Now, tell us about effect vs. affect. Last time I opened that can of worms, there were at least 30 follow-up postings arguing the point.

Re:GPL 'virus' question. (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773704)

I don't think the ability of a work to stand alone is relevant to the question. If you combine two works, the result is a derivative work of both.

But this is entirely avoiding the intent of the author. If the author had wanted you to link to a non-GPL work, the author would have used the LGPL. Whether or not it's legal to go against the author's intent, it isn't nice.



Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 15 years ago | (#1773707)

I think this is why Native Americans had so much trouble with the Europeans at the gift exchange back in the early 1700s. The Europeans didn't understand the "give something back" part.

When I write free software, I am doing it to expand the available pool of free software, not to subsidize someone's proprietary software. If I did not have the protection of the GPL, I'd simply not write free software. I have no wish to be someone's unpaid employee. The GPL protects me from that.



Re:Copyleft, Copyright, and IP (1)

smoke (771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773714)

Do not forget that we, the people, make this world.
Personally, I do not intend to limit myself to please some less competent person, who would like me to be equally stupid.
In the end, I do not think any surviving insect is interested in human intellectual property anyway :)

Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773715)

Robin the Limo Driver, Fix the spelling of my name please!

Not MIT (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773716)

Oops, I think the law professor is from somewhere other than MIT. If I'm not mistaken, MIT doesn't have a law school.

Re:Calling all /. pundits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773717)

You could probably consider the (Perl) code to have been "compiled" from the real source. All in all, it's not much different from, say, taking an Emacs binary and translating it to Java bytecode. No way that argument will fly.

Anyways, from the bits and bytes I've heard, version 3 of the GPL will address a lot of these issues. It'll probably have plenty to say about present and future shared object / component technology, and IIRC, it'll also be a bit more friendly to companies like IBM et. al.


Re:Benefactor, symbiote and parasite (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773718)

I'm not trying to dis Red Hat. They are a symbiote. They take value from the community, the software we have written, and make money with it. They return that value by paying for people to write more free software. Give and take. Quid-pro-quo. Symbiosis

Re:Copyleft, Copyright, and IP (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773719)

I'm not a lawyer. Really!

Re:Any more? (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773720)

The others asked pretty much same questions as the ones we forwarded to Bruce. That's what the "editorial selection" process really was: eliminating duplicates.

This was our first try at a "reader generated" interview. Next time, it'll be smoother, and the selection process will be more open.

And I'm sure that Bruce will not only be checking in here later on (he has other things to do, you know) but will do other things with us in the future, as well.

Re:Any more? (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773721)

Well, Valerie wants me to take her out, so I'll be off slashdot for a few hours, but can answer questions later.

Re:best viewed with lynx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773722)

Does submitting with lynx work now? Last time I tried (it's > 1/2 year since then) it didn't work.

Yes, I know. I could have fired up lynx for this to try it myself. But then this reply wouldn't mkae much sense, since I had answered my own question :-).

Twice... (1)

BadlandZ (1725) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773723)

Heh, They mispelled your name twice ;-) Once in the title, and once in the brief... :-) Stuff Happens... (Suprizing how often, I got a written job offer for a place I interviewed at a week ago, and couldn't accept it because it was a contract that had my name spelled wrong all over it).

Heh.. Somone was typing just a little to fast, and doesn't realize the spelling checker doesn't do names...

Re:Formatting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773737)

Thank you very much.

Now reading isn't such a pain anymore.

Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773738)

And also, it's Bruce not Pruce, and when used with an apostrophe its Perens' not Peren's . But then you put this up in a big hurry becuase I dragged my feet on it for 48 hours, so it's my fault anyway.

P.S. For the word nuts, "Perens" is not related to "parens" for parenthesis, but is latin for "traveling", so "Bruce Perens" reads in Latin as "Traveling Bruce". Same as the root for the English words peripatetic and peregrination.

Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773739)

Fixed. You know how it is when something runs way past deadline -- and you end up having to redo a whole bunch of page-busting HTML to remove hard-coded line breaks etc. in a hurry, besides. :)

Public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773740)

He says public domain software can be relicensed and the author's name can be removed. I believe this is not true, the authors name of public domain software is protected by law and cannot be changed into some bogus name. Am I mistaken?

I don't know about relicensing though? Can (unmodified) public domain software simply be but under a more restricted license?

Commendable move? (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773741)

Yes, there is a large traditional software company making a commendable move. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who they are yet. It's not nice for me to pre-empt other people's announcements - I did that to Troll Tech once and they got (justifiably) very annoyed with me.

You'd almost not notice this, but this might be something big? I myself am already wondering who it could be... somehow I think it's unlikely it will be Microsoft - if it is I will reconsider many of my opinions though.

Wishful thinking would let me hope Macromedia because they have some great tools. Is Macromedia 'traditional' though?

Remind me to stay cool though. This commendable move might have so little impact on me myself. I should not lure myself into dissapointment for making the error to think that (open source == Linux port).

Maybe EA Sports will open source their game engine and get rich by selling data and image files to us. ;-)

Or does anyone else have better guesses/views/opinions/rants?

Attention Slashdot Poster/Editors ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1773742)

This was a very useful article. You should set it up so that Bruce answers questions every 2 months or so (if he's willing). I think this question/answer type article on this subject with a real expert to answer will be very useful to your audience.

Thanks, maybe consider this type of activity for other topics as well like patent law.....

Re:Perens, not "Parens", darn it! (2)

Roblimo (357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1773743)

For everyone else: Bruce knew the idea of doing this Q & A thing was pre-alpha, and kindly consented to participate in the experiment. And as always happens in such situations, it turned out to be lots more work than we expected. Plus (again, as usual) we both had lots of other stuff happen in our lives to mess up the week.

Some great questions, though. And great answers, Bruce.

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