[License]: need expert
Eric.Scharff at Colorado.EDU
Sun Feb 10 02:34:52 UTC 2002
On Sat, 9 Feb 2002, Alan Kay wrote:
> And while you are at it, explain to them that trademarking "Open
> Source", if they reallly have done something so dumb, is at least a
> moral violation of everything that "open source" is about.
I'm not sure if I want to contribute to more licensing discussions, but I
have a rant that I have wanted to say about this licensing and can't stay
I think this whole mess in the Open Source world about licenses was a
well-intentioned pursuit that has gone horribly wrong.
The thing in my mind that separates open source from other kinds of
software development is not the license, or even the software itself. The
thing that makes open source development interesting and significant is the
collaborative process. Open source is a collaborative construction
activity, where people must work together (or, dare I say, cooperate) to
build something that would be fundamentally different if it were built in
isolation. It is the process, not the stuff.
Open source software licenses are well-intentioned legal documents meant
to make sure this collaborative process can't be stifled. Source code
access is important because we need it as a precondition to
collaboratively construct software.
The problem with these licenses (and with trademarking the term open
source) is that with all of the focus on licenses, they serve the opposite
function than they should: they do more to focus on software as a
licenceable commodity, while forgetting the collaborative process.
Most of us are not lawyers, and for that reason the creation of these
legal licenses are dangerous because, quite frankly, we really don't know
if these documents are really giving us the protection we think they are,
or that we have the protection we think we want. As licenses become more
complicated, they distance themselves further from the people they are
meant to support.
I am not a lawyer, and I don't really care what licenses we use. I do
care about the spirit of open source development. I value the sharing
that takes place in an open source community. I value all the smart
people and the cool things I learn about and get to play with.
What I do not value is lots of discussions of licenses, when I am not sure
why they help us (either as Squeak developers, or as people in general).
What good can come from us serving the licenses rather than the licenses
We now return you to your regularly scheduled set of [BUG]s, [FIX]s,
[ENH]s, [GOODIE}s, and [UPDATES] where the really great stuff happens.
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