Subject: Re: A company's appeal to the community
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 01:54:38 -0500

> Ok.  What would it take to prove to you otherwise?  That's basically
> what I am asking.

I've been trying to incite conversations for (a) what kinds of
business plans deserve what amounts of goodwill, and (b) how can we
verify compliance.  I know I don't have these answers, and I'd like to
hear others' thoughts.  Perhaps we can turn the question around.  Tell
companies what we care about, and have them explain why their business
model is a good deal.

> The initially released codebase, if released under most of the
> OSD-certified licenses, would remain available.  That of itself
> would be a major step.

Tonight I read the license page for a video recorder implemented with
video compression hardware, that saves to a hard disk, and is
partially based on Linux.  Highlights I remember are:

	a) The Linux portion is available for copying costs.

	b) This product contains some video copy-protection code.
	   Reverse engineering is prohibited (I wasn't sure whether
	   this applies only to the copy protection or to the whole box).

	c) Any modification may remove your authority to use this system.

Given b and c, what good is a?

> While I see where you're getting at, I don't think free software is
> something that needs to set up a morality police.

Then what's the point of free software?  I tried to avoid the landmine
of "morality" by saying "win-win" or "win-lose".

> The companies I've talked to about free software initiatives (not
> just this one) are very concerned about community impressions.  Look
> at the prospectuses and/or SEC filings for RedHat and VA for a
> detailing of business risks.  The same concern is also voiced for
> established companies now approaching the idea.  Moral suasion seems
> a powerful force in this arena.  Interesting.

I agree that community goodwill is important to the business success
of companies in this arena.  I don't agree that current attention to
goodwill proves a company is pursuing a long-term win-win strategy.


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