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[News] Debates About Mixing Proprietary With OSS for "Open Source" Marketing Slant

  • Subject: [News] Debates About Mixing Proprietary With OSS for "Open Source" Marketing Slant
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2010 13:41:23 +0100
  • Followup-to: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • User-agent: KNode/4.4.2
Hash: SHA1

Defining Software Freedom: The Singularity of Free

,----[ Quote ]
| It should be noted up front that I may 
| have been a bit presumptuous in assigning 
| the origins of open core to Aaron 
| Fulkerson, the CEO of MindTouch. In a 
| comment on my blog, Fulkerson himself 
| corrected the issue:
| "I can't take credit for 'open core.' When 
| we began capitalizing MindTouch I employed 
| a model that made sense to me because it 
| seemed to strike a nice balance between 
| the needs and wants of the community of 
| MindTouch users and the needs (and wants) 
| of our company. I didn't have a name for 
| it until Lampitt coined the term. I simply 
| adopted it. Furthermore, I don't think 
| this is a new model. Indeed, we've been 
| employing this model since the very dawn 
| of software."


Proprietary Software Licensing Produces No New Value In Society

,----[ Quote ]
| Meanwhile, I've also spent some time 
| applying this idea of "creating nothing 
| and producing nothing" to the proprietary 
| software industry. Proprietary licenses, 
| in many ways, are actually not all that 
| different from these valueless financial 
| transactions. Initially, there's no 
| problem: someone writes software and is 
| paid for it; that's the way it should be. 
| Creation of new software is an activity 
| that should absolutely be funded: it 
| creates something new and valuable for 
| others. However, proprietary licenses are 
| designed specifically to allow a single 
| act of programming generate new revenue 
| over and over again. In this aspect, 
| proprietary licensing is akin to selling 
| financial derivatives: the actual valuable 
| transaction is buried well below the non-
| existent financial construction above it.
| [...]
| Software freedom is another principle of 
| this type. While you can make a profit 
| with community-respecting FLOSS business 
| models (such as service, support and 
| freely licensed custom modifications on 
| contract), it's admittedly a smaller 
| profit than can be made with Open Core and 
| proprietary licensing. But that greater 
| profit potential doesn't legitimatize such 
| business models, just as it doesn't 
| legitimize strip mining or gambling on 
| financial derivatives.


Glyn Moody responds:

Exploring Entitlement Economics

,----[ Quote ]
| This idea of getting money for work 
| already done is precisely how copyright is 
| regarded these days. It's not enough for a 
| creator to be paid once for his or her 
| work: they want to be paid every time it 
| is performed or copies made of 
| performances.
| So ingrained is this idea that anyone 
| suggesting the contrary - like that 
| doughty young Eleanor - is regarded as 
| some kind of alien from another planet, 
| and is mocked by those whose livelihoods 
| depend upon this kind of entitlement 
| economics.
| But just as open source has cut down the 
| fat profits of proprietary sotware 
| companies, so eventually will the 
| exorbitant profits of the media industry 
| be cut back to reasonable levels based on 
| how much work people do - because, as Kuhn 
| notes, there really is no justification 
| for anything more.



Open Source, free or not free?

,----[ Quote ]
| To be or not to be, free. That is the
| question. Well the answer is not 42. Or
| maybe it is. Forty two is the answer to life
| according to Arthur Dent yet he didn't know
| the question. The question is probably too
| big for us to understand or even ask so I
| guess we will never know. Perhaps one day at
| the restaurant doing some pasta equations
| while watching the end of the universe we
| will know but until then.....
| [...]
| The meaning of the word free in the Open
| Source context is freedom (who doesn't have
| Mel Gibson shouting that in their heads
| right now :). What freedom though? Freedom
| to devalue the hard work of companies and
| programmers trying to make a simple living?
| No! Open Source freedom is freedom of
| knowledge. Freedom to understand and freedom
| to learn. Advocates of Open Source are free
| to freely share their knowledge and freely
| learn from others.


Afraid of open core lock-in? The alternative could be worse


Open Core Debate: Avoiding the Law of Unintended Consequences

,----[ Quote ]
| In the interest of transparency, I work with
| over twenty open source companies, most of
| who were funded by venture capitalists and
| the vast majority of which use the âopen
| coreâ model. These companies have provided
| significant value to end users through the
| software licensed under open source
| licenses. Simon states: âBut to use the
| package effectively in production, a
| business probably wonât find the functions
| of the core package sufficient, even in the
| (usual) case of the core package being
| highly capable.â This statement is simply
| incorrect. I have sat through many Board
| meetings and, in fact, the conversion rate
| from âopen sourceâ to âcommercialâ licenses
| is generally less than 10% for these
| companies. Thus, more than nine out of ten
| end users find the functionality of the open
| source version satisfactory.
| Simon says that open core does not provide
| software freedom for âend usersâ. Yet,
| nothing prevents the end users of the open
| source version to modify it and distribute
| it or otherwise exercise the rights under
| the license. In fact, Compiere demonstrates
| the fallacy of this position because it
| created two different forks. Simon complains
| about the lack of access to the âcommercial
| extensionsâ of open core programs.


Open core is not a crime

,----[ Quote ]
| Simon Phipps has articulated why this
| strategy does not meet the approval of
| software freedom advocates, but in doing so,
| in my opinion, mischaracterises the
| relationship between open core vendors and
| open source.


Open Core and OSI

,----[ Quote ]
| Is Mark suggesting that OSI intended to
| facilitate less freedom for the code and end
| users than the GPL offers, that this was an
| OSI goal, that "software freedom for the
| software user" isn't and never was an OSI
| goal? Does freedom mean only the right to
| fork the code? If so, I'd like OSI to say so
| clearly and on the record. If so, it might
| provide insight into why OSI is struggling
| and provide indisputable proof that they
| were foundationally wrong. I hope they'll
| weigh in on this debate and plant their
| flag, because if that is what OSI stands
| for, maybe it's time to let them float out
| into outer space without the community, thus
| making it clear there really is no
| connection between the real FOSS community
| and OSI any more.
| If that is not what OSI stands for, I'd like
| to hear them say so. I hope it isn't. But
| the community wants to know where they
| stand, and for what.
| For myself, I believe that OSI, in order to
| be relevant, needs to reinvent itself and
| restructure to represent the entire
| community with its license list and its
| definition. Enough with the old divisions
| and the debates. The community needs to face
| the world more unitedly now, as a broad
| spectrum, including those who had the
| foresight to realize that VC guys and
| proprietary types would be coming along
| someday and would try to close down the
| freedom of the code and the freedoms of
| those using it just to make a buck.

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