Subject: Re: Can open source cost money?
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 16:14:19 +0200

Brian Bartholomew wrote:

> > I dislike the BSD license for my purposes because it allows libre
> > stuff to become non-libre again.  The BSD license is a superb way to
> > get university research products in mainstream use.  It's a poor way
> > to keep a donation libre.
> | Examples? Proof?
> > X11, Ingres
> How soon we forget.  The 800-pound example is SunOS, and the tens
> (hundreds?) of other proprietary BSD Unix derivatives.

Yes...but what conclusion do you draw from that example.  Here's
what I draw:

* Some people took the BSD work commercial, and created a lot of
customer value from it.

* Some people continued to develop the BSD work in the open source
world, and created a lot of customer value from it.

Where's the problem?

What was libre didn't become non-libre.  What happened was that someone
added value, and didn't make the added-value libre.

The only party that has the right to complain is the original author, if they
wanted their contribution always to remain libre, and used the wrong license.
That's what the GPL is for.  But if the author doesn't mind, why should
anyone else?

I guess what I'm arguing is the moral right of the author of the software
to put it under whatever license they want.

Personally, I find the world that allows both Solaris and FreeBSD to
be created on the base of the original Berkeley UNIX work to be superior
to one in which only FreeBSD could exist.

Often, the choice is not between non-libre and libre, but between non-libre
and nothing.  Not everyone has the luxury to create libre software.  I
applaud anyone who creates value for others, under whatever license
they choose to use.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-829-0515 ext 266, Fax 707-829-0104,