Subject: Re: Must publish vs. must supply
From: "Abe Kornelis" <abe@bixoft.nl>
Date: Mon, 10 Mar 2003 22:29:42 +0100

Mark,

Chris and I appear to share a point of view.
Thanks Chris, for your reaction.
I feel strengthened by it. Which license do you
currently use for open-source distribution?

----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Rafn <dagon@dagon.net>


> On Sun, 9 Mar 2003, Chris F Clark wrote:
>
> > I would like an open source license that
> > prevents or atleast substantially "discourages" commercial users who
> > wish to use it for closed source applications, but allows them to use
> > it when developing open source applications.
>
> I understand the desire to license software in such a way that it doesn't
> compete with your business, but I'm not sure it's compatible with what I
> think of as "open source".
--> As far as I can see, it appears to be quite common practice
       to dual-license open software. Free for those who are willing
       to share their sources, and paid for those who want to use it,
       but unwilling (loath i.e.) to disclose the source code of their
       own software to the public.

> It sounds like you may prefer a noncommercial sharing license, or a
> noncompete license.
--> I can speak only for my self: I would strongly prefer an OSI-approved
      license.

> I personally believe that an actual free license gives additional benefits
> to the software author (like the satisfaction of knowing the software is
> useful and that good pieces can live on in other programs.  Also community
> acceptance that can (or not, sometimes) lead to better bug reports,
> patches, and suggestions for the product.
--> It's always fine to know people use my software to their
      advantage - but I have to make a living, too. To put it
      bluntly: I cannot afford to give my software away without
      any restriction, however noble that might seem to some.

> But it's not for everyone, and certainly not for all software.  If you
> intend to sell the software itself (rather than selling support, add-ons,
> or other services related to it), you probably want to limit your
> competitors from doing the same.
--> Nope, not afraid of competition. Just don't want to see my
      software used in apps that remain effectively shielded from
      the public while nominally adhering to open-source
      license requirements. They can use my software for their
      proprietary software but *not* under an open-source
      license.
      The biggest point in this whole discussion is this simple
      fact: if I do not insert either a must-publish or a must-supply
      clause in my license they can (and probably will) claim that
      their source is available since they'd have to give it to their
      customers - who'd refuse to do anything but store them
      passively.
      They're scared shitless to touch such sources at all. They're
      afraid of reducing the system's robustness (remember,
      I'm talking about mainframes supporting thousands or more
      transactions per second, the stakes are high), afraid of
      losing vendor support, afraid of reducing the software's
      maintainability. I've seen some strange work-arounds in
      my career - just to avoid touching something that was
      made available!
      Without a must-supply or must-publish clause the sources
      that were supplied to the customers will rust into eternity
      without hope of ever being unlocked by those who might
      be willing to learn, improve, or whatever...
      As Chris said: a license needs teeth, and this one I deem
      to be one very important canine.
      So I return to my original question - which was intended
      to fathom the thought of the readers of this list:
      Is a must-supply (to copyright holder, that is) clause
      preferable over a must-publish (to the public, that is)
      clause, or vice versa. Or would it be best to leave the
      choice between the two ways of publishing to the
      contributor him/her self?

So far, I *think* the latter option is looked upon relatively
favorably - assuming the silent majority agrees with the
discussion so far.

Please feel invited to share your comments.

Kind regards, Abe Kornelis.




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