Subject: Re: open source definition
Date: 22 Apr 1998 19:11:06 -0000

From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
> Two separate issues conflated in GPL and also in Open Source: the
> issue for source code and support and the issue of making a profit.
> It had been my hope that the "open source" effort would finally
> separate them.

I am the primary author of the Open Source Definition and its predecessor,
the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

As far as I can tell, it's simply not _necessary_ for you to get royalties
from the sale of the software you've written for us to achieve our goal
of having a lot of good freely-redistributable software. There are a large
contingient of people who write it regardless of whether they are paid in
cash or not.

As one of the authors, I find I am well paid in intangibles. I am flown
around the world to talk about this software, and thus much of the cost
of my vacations is paid for by the trade shows where I speak. I get to
meet interesting people - for example last weekend I met the ex-president
of Hati, and the ex-Prime-Minister of Canada, and some of the current
cabinet of Israel. Publishers are banging on my door for me to write for
them. Job offers arrive unsolicited. My hobby project has flown on the
space shuttle because it's part of the Debian system. That sounds like
sufficient payment to me.

The intent of the software collections for which we formulated the OSD
was to provide a base upon which anyone could add value (including non
OSD programs) and sell the result without concern about royalty.

> the publishers can make money

Competitive forces limit this to a minimum profit - since anyone
can sell the software, someone who charged too much would quickly
bootstrap their own competition. One example is the Official Debian CD,
for which I set the policies. Debian doesn't do its own manufacturing,
they let anyone duplicate and sell our official CD. This has resulted in
several manufacturers offering the 2-CD set for $4.99 . It would have cost
me more to run a CD distribution program in house.

> the packagers can make money because the packaging is a
> difficult to reproduce tangible good

Same as above - anyone can sell those packages, so the packager is
kept from charging too much.

> the marketers and distributors can make money

Only as much as is reasonable for the convenience they offer. When you
can get the software elsewhere for very little, they are restricted by
competitive forces from charging too much.

> In fact, the ONLY party in this scheme who can NOT make money is the
> party who makes the whole thing possible -- the original software
> author.

But we get the benefit of having an excellent distribution system for our
software without having to do the work of running that system.


	Bruce Perens