Subject: What is an FSB (was Re: Sun, BSD, and GNU )
From: John McDermott <jjm@jkintl.com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 99 08:16:24


--- On Thu, 3 Jun 1999 00:29:43 +0200 "Juergen A. Erhard" <jae@jae.ddns.org> 
wrote:

>-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
>Hash: SHA1
>
>>>>>> "Stephen" == Stephen J Turnbull <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp> writes:
>
>>>>>> "Craig" == Craig Brozefsky <craig@red-bean.com> writes:
>
>    Craig> Which license lets companies leverage free software into
>    Craig> proprietary code with the most profit return, [...], since
>    Craig> by definitions such companies would not be Free Software
>    Craig> companies.
>
>    Stephen> By your definition, and others, perhaps.  Maybe even for
>    Stephen> the purposes of this list.
>
>    Stephen> But to me, a free software business is any business that
>    Stephen> as part of its normal profit-oriented practices produces
>    Stephen> or distributes free software or free documentation for
>    Stephen> software.  It doesn't have to be a majority part,
>    Stephen> although I wish it were and I sympathize with people who
>    Stephen> would like to define it that way.
>
>So, if Microsoft would release one of it's products under GPL (to pick
>the most extreme scenario), they would be an FSB?
>
>Or do they have to still tr to make money with it?
>
...
>
>Would Microsoft then be an FSB?
>
>I can't put up any figure of how many percent of a company's
>revenue/profits have to come from Free Software to consider that
>company an FSB... though I tend to close to 100% (so anything not Free
>would be negligible).
>

Sorry for all the quotes, but I wanted some history here.

Just what is an FSB?  Maybe we need some sort of consensus if not for the 
current discussions then for later ones.

I think it is clear that if a company creates libre and/or gratis software as 
the central part of its business then it is an FSB.

It seems that if a company gives away one or two tidbits of software, but 
keeps a huge mass proprietary, than it is not an FSB.

Each of the following may or may not produce any free software as a 
consequence of its business:

Is a company which, say, derives most or all of its income from distributing 
free software (and making appropriate updates, etc.) an FSB?  (e.g. RedHat)

Is a company which derives most or all of its income from  consulting on free 
software an FSB?

Is a company which derives most or all if its income from training people to 
use free software an FSB?

My vote for the last three is "yes". This may be a broader view of FSB than 
one or two of you have expressed recently in the license discussions, but it 
seems especially appropriate in light of those discussions.  These last three 
groups would be seriously hurt if there were no more "free" software.   

--john

-------------------------------------
Name: John McDermott
VOICE: +1 505/377-6293 FAX +1 505/377-6313
E-mail: John McDermott <jjm@jkintl.com>
Writer and Computer Consultant
-------------------------------------