Subject: Re: A few here may have an opinion on this
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 20:30:09 +0100


Hi, 

  I am in a (French) state-funded research institute.

  As you may expect, the issue licencing our results is essential,
since it is a decision we have to make all the time.
  The state has no specific policy, and the institute is trying to
make up one, as are many universities (also state-funded).

  The policy we are coming up with, to a large extent (the authors do
get much freedom in each licencing decision), is that we encourage the
choice of licences which are most likely to promote the use of the
software and its further development.
   We consider that it depends much on the type of software developed.
In some case a free software licence may be more appropriate, in
others a proprietary licence.
   Typically, if a piece of software requires a lot of additional
investment to be made usable by the largest number, and is unlikely to
have a large community of developpers, a proprietary licencing may be
better.
   For other things, various types of free software licences are
considered.  Sometimes, there are things we want to protect, like the
design of a system, in which case a licence like the QPL will be used.

   The point is, the more the software is used, and the more it is
further developed, the more it contributes to wealth creation, which
is what we are paid for.
   But that often depends on the nature of the software being
considered.

   In principle, other things have to be taken into consideration,
such as not destroying other wealth through unfair (or useless)
competition.  And of course, there may be economic, societal or
political issues that we may want to consider in some cases.

   Of course, we do not have the means to be very precise about our
evaluation of what is best, but being conscious of the issues, and
writing them down, is already a good step towards better policies.

Bernard


On Thu, Oct 24, 2002 at 01:16:25PM +0500, Benjamin J. Tilly  wrote:
> chrismaeda@attbi.com wrote:
> > Maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood but
> > I think government tilting the playing field
> > against GPL is perfectly reasonable. So far, 
> > free software has been an utter failure at 
> > producing large profitable businesses that 
> > generate tax revenue.  Government legislating
> > in favor of GPL will push more of the software
> > business into the non-profit sector and make
> > us all poorer.
> 
> I did not say that the government should legislate for
> the GPL.  Or any other license.  I said that when the
> government's legitimate interests lead them that way,
> they should give feedback in as cost-effective a way
> as possible regardless of the license.  In other words
> I want a level table.  That means freedom to contribute
> to GPLed projects, not a mandate to do so.
> 
> As for the rest of your argument, I find it misguided
> to the point of being wrong.  Would you say that the
> government should stop building roads because having
> the government build roads has prevented us from
> developing large road-building companies which the
> government can tax?  Would you say that IBM was wrong
> in their large public free software investments when
> they can't get money from selling what is already free?
> 
> My answer to those is that both actions are justifiable
> for the same reason: the actions are revenue positive.
> Sure, when the government pays for roads, you don't get
> private highway systems.  But you do enable many other
> businesses that pay taxes.  And IBM has publically said
> that they made back their billion with interest from
> lines of business which depended on that free software
> as infrastructure.
> 
> Finally subsuming existing areas of software into free
> software does not indicate that all software will
> become free software.  New areas and kinds of software
> are continually being created.  This happens because
> of innovation, and the only major threat to it that I
> have seen in software is fear of abusive monopolies.
> 
> Cheers,
> Ben
> -- 
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