Subject: Re: paradox Open Source / Open Content
From: John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 10:46:48 -0500

sandro_zic@web.de wrote:


> The question we were still not able to answer ourselves is: how can 
> we protect the freedom of open content (at least) in the fields of 
> science and education (at least) when our software is being used?


You can't.  If you build a tool which the public is invited to use
for its own purposes, you cannot require the tool to be used only
in ways of which you approve, any more than Nikola Tesla
could prevent his invention of alternating current from being used (by
Thomas Edison) to electrocute cats, dogs, an elephant, and (by
New York State) people.  Tesla's boss Westinghouse refused to
sell New York any AC generators for such a purpose, but the state
bought generators through a third party -- Edison.

http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/Physics10/physics%2010%20notes/Electrocution.html

 
> How can we grant that scientist can work with free scientific texts at 
> least if someone uses our software and at least 9 months after initial 
> publication? We can't do it as long as we want to provide our 
> software under GPL?


You *can* do so, since you are the authors and can license the
software under any terms you want.  Such terms just aren't
Open Source (or free software).  Furthermore, they would need
to be provided by click-wrap, so that the recipient of the
software would have sufficient notice of the restrictions --
in the U.S. at least, a mere message accompanying the software
is insufficient to create a contract.

> So we simply have to face the fact that 
> powerful publishing houses can do the same as we do, but with 
> closed content - and even with our software? That's a shame ;)

Indeed it is.  And they can use your software with all the more
confidence, because they can be quite sure there are no back
doors in it.

-- 
Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>
    the corridors               || http://www.reutershealth.com
during the hours of repose     || http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel

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