Subject: Re: Help with license decision for "cluster" of similar projects
From: Russell McOrmond <>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2004 12:07:36 -0500 (EST)

  This is quickly off-topic for this list again.  I wonder if there needs
to be an discussion group for discussing the business 
model and legal analysis of license agreements beyond the question of 
approving them as OSI compliant?

On Wed, 3 Mar 2004, Alex Rousskov wrote:

> way to word the same idea (protection of free access to code, even
> though that protected free access might not be in the best interest of
> the developer).

  I guess I disagree that this discussion is clarifying things, and
suspect it is making things even more confusing.

  When a business chooses a copyleft or non-copyleft free software license
it is best when it relates to ones own business model.

  For code I author having a derivative work be in a non-free software
license is as much opposed to my business model as a non-free software
licensed package having it's copyright violated through being added
illegally to a P2P network.  I rely on "resource multiplication" as the
justification for doing the extra work (beyond coding new software for
clients) to release the software to the public.  When people make non-free
derivatives they are "taking from me without paying" in the same way as
"software pirates" are claimed to of non-free software.

  Talking of freedom in this context ends up based more on personal 
politics than anything else.

> - Copyleft licenses maximize the freedom to access  the code
> - BSD-like licenses maximize the freedom to develop the code
  The main feature of a BSD-like (non-copyleft) license is that it allows
non-free derivatives.  Non-free software minimizes the freedom to develop
derivative code of that non-free software.  So +1-1=0, meaning that
BSD-like licenses do not maximize the freedom to develop code as it
appears in the short term, but in fact minimizes long-term freedom to
develop the code.

  I believe there are times when non-copyleft free software licenses are
ideal, such as one is trying to provide code as documentation of a
standard.  The motivation for code creation is standards creation, and
commercial interests such as royalty-generation and
resource-multiplication do not need to factor into it.

  I personally see few cases where non-copyleft licenses appropriately
apply to commercial FLOSS software creation and distribution.  I see
non-copyleft licenses as a "giveaway expense" that ends up contrary or at
least outside of my commercial FLOSS business.  There may be some
loss-leader aspect to the business analysis, but that becomes more like
the standards creation example.

  While this giveaway may be very appropriate for the public and volunteer
sectors where the motivations are not commercial but political or social,
I see the private sector motivations being very different.

 Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <> 
 "Make it legal: don't litigate, use creative licensing" campaign.
 A modern answer to P2P:
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