Subject: Re: A company's appeal to the community
From: <kmself@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 10:07:24 -0800
Tue, 18 Jan 2000 10:07:24 -0800
On Tue, Jan 18, 2000 at 02:51:15AM -0500, Brian Bartholomew wrote:
> Karsten writes:
> 
> > What if the source were currently available, but not under free
> > software licensing terms?
> 
> With sufficient money, strategic appeal, and NDA, you can look at
> Windows source code.  There are several companies who have done so.
> 
> For merely a weak academic NDA and some cash, you can look at
> the source of commercial Unix distributions.

I think this is closer to the current status at the company.  They're
not concerned about shielding their APIs in the same way MSFT is, but
they cannot open up any further until they clear the encumberances of
their licensors.

> ...and so on down the line until you get to GPL or BSD at the bottom.
> 
> The degree of goodwill I assign to a specific instance of source
> availability depends on how good of a deal I think it is.  My measure
> of being a good deal is closely tied to *both* price and freedom.
> Maximum goodwill is granted to a charity.  A business cannot be a
> charity, but I would like to see businesses compete for how close they
> can get.  There is an enormous middle ground where software companies
> can offer better deals than they do now.  For starters, how about
> offering a guarantee that their product will work as advertised?

Read the GPL lately?  That's one promise which explicitly *isn't* made.

That said, if you reveal source, you've got a lot less to hide behind
when you're making a sales pitch.

> > The question "what is the point of free software" is personal dialog
> > the company has to have with itself.  The answer need not be public.
> >
> > Companies looking to use free software should not have to be held to
> > some higher standard, beyond license compliance.
> >
> > Companies looking to benefit from free software development in their
> > own products need to see that they're generating trust between
> > themselves and their development community.
> 
> License is not sufficient to guarantee a good deal.  Consider all the
> business plans to pervert the GPL social expectations, while remaining
> within the words of the license.  If a company wants to earn my trust,
> they can start by making a sales pitch to me why I should trust them.
> License is one part of that pitch.  A business model that appears to
> work, and doesn't have "selling out and screwing me" as an exit
> strategy, is another part.  Earning a customer's trust is basic stuff,
> and the rules haven't changed with software or the Internet.

Thanks for your comments, Brian.

> A member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) http://lpf.ai.mit.edu
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA

-- 
Karsten M. Self (kmself@ix.netcom.com)
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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