Subject: Re: Commercial Open Source- state of play
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 15 Sep 2003 00:01:28 -0700

Tony Butterfield <tab@1060.org> writes:

> My motivation is in finding an open-source model for software that
> promotes all the well known and discussed aims of open source but that
> allows a small independent startup to create a revenue stream.
> 
> I am working on a provocative short paper titled something like "Why
> current open source revenue streams conflict with the open source
> philosophy" that I would like to forward to this list for comments.

Note that this topic has been discussed at great length for many years
now.

> 1) What is the current OSI certification status of the Sleepycat
> licence? This is in the context of their frontmatter defining
> distribution in a non-standard and restrictive way outside the licence
> itself. More generally, can ambiguity in the licence which is then
> clarified externally in a way which contradicts the open source
> definition invalidate the certification?

The Sleepycat license is OSI certified:
    http://opensource.org/licenses/sleepycat.php

Sleepycat's definition of ``redistribute'' does not in any way affect
the open-source status of their license.  What Sleepcat is saying is
that if you ``redistribute'' according to their criteria, you must
include the complete source code for your application.  That is a
standard open-source requirement, found in the GPL among others.
Sleepycat definition of ``redistribute'' does not remove that right;
it actually give you more rights (i.e., not distribute source code),
and thus can not decrease the open-source status of the license.

> 2) Dual licencing approaches allow revenue to be created from
> distributees who want to avoid the terms of an open licence. But this
> seems only useful for distributees who want more flexibility as
> distributors. It couldn't really work for "end-users" as they can pretty
> much do as they require under the terms of an OSI licence as long as
> they don't distribute. Is this a fair understanding or are there more
> subtleties that I have missed?

I believe that is a fair understanding.  Most people feel that open
source licenses may not restrict running the program.

Ian
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