Subject: Re: Open Source Business Found Parasitic, and the ADCL
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 2003 13:39:04 -0800

Quoting Chris F Clark (

> The closest approximation I'm aware of is "sell the present, free the
> past".  It's not a bad model.

As you probably know, this is what L. Peter Deutsch's AFPL Ghostscript
(formerly Aladdin Ghostscript) does.

> However, some of us would like to truly give our current code away in
> a truly open source form and still sell it.  I myself am dealing with
> exactly that conundrum.  

It's a difficult problem, and I'm in sympathy with people wanting to
find a way.  Depending on the product, it might be possible to issue an
instance of the core piece of your product under a copyleft licence
without impairing your ability to sell the complete product as generally
packaged.  Whether this arrangement is beneficial depends, of course, on
the nature of the product:  Conceivably, with a suitable type of core
component -- say, an encryption engine -- this would let the entire
world more-properly appreciate the design (and even contribute to it, if
they wished).  At the same time, the copyleft provisions covering that
code instance would (or might, for an appropriate product) prevent
competitors from proprietising your code:  That right would be reserved
to you as copyright holder.  People wishing to incorporate the core
component into proprietary code would be obliged to acquire from you a
separate code instance under your choice of proprietary terms.

> And despite the apprehensions of some members of this list, assuming
> that the only reason to want to do so, is to hijack the open source
> concept for commercial gain, there are propretary software vendors out
> there who wish to make their software more open source, one small step
> at a time, not for any self-serving reason, but simply because it has
> the "right" feel.

I think this is generally understood.  I imagine most parts of the
open source community just object to occasional efforts (not from you!) 
to misapply the term "open source" to clearly proprietary licensing, or
lobby the OSI Board to approve such licences.

Rhetoric from certain commercial interests (not from you) about the OSD
"requiring" businesses to do things, open source being "parasitic", etc.
just becomes tiresome noise and special pleadings after a while.

> Better for us would be a license that was closer to open source (or
> better yet truly open source) that recognized that derived works were
> still a right that as the original copyright owners we retained.

Unfortunately for this initiative, the right to fork (OSD provision #3)
is pretty much _the_ core concept of open source.  In my view, pretty
much the entire rest of the OSD is "fencing" around that central idea, 
aiming to prevent people guaranteeing it ostensibly but not in

It's possible that what you describe is nonetheless possible in an
OSD-compliant licence, and I'm just not yet understanding what you have
in mind.

Cheers,            There are only 10 types of people in this world -- 
Rick Moen          those who understand binary arithmetic and those who don't.
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