Subject: Re: OpenSources "opensourced"
From: Craig Brozefsky <>
Date: 20 May 1999 14:26:53 -0700

Michael Tiemann <> writes:

> Fooey.  Here's how I see it:
> 1.  I wrote an article about Open Source stuff
> 2.  ORA published it, giving me equal rights to redistribute
> 3.  I put the article on my to download
> 4.  I get lots of invitations to speak various places
> 5.  ORA decides to make all the articles free to download

Yes, and this is exactly what they did.  But if you actually think
about what they did in comparison to what the term "Open Source"
means, then they are misusing the term grossly.  They say that the
essays are freely redistributable without modification, but the core
of Open Source is about modification, not free(no cost) distribution.
So for Oreilly to call it "Open Sourced" is disingenuous at best, and
my impression is that it's knowingly dishonest.  I think that someone
came up with a nice pun to put at the top of the PR and sorta skimmed
over the actualy meaning of the term Open Source, figuring Oreilly
would be untouchable in that respect.  It's yet another example of
their inability to retain any dignity when it comes to getting a
publicity shot in.  That is afterall, the job description of marketing
is it not?

I have no issue with Oreilly reserving those rights, provided they did
not attempt to call it an "Open Source" distribution.  What they are
doing is no different than what many many other publishers do every
day on the web.

Some of the essays are actually open-sourced, for instance the ESR and
Perens essays are placed under the GPL.  But your's and most of the
others except for Stallman's (which is just plain copyrighted) and
the Netscape one which is copyrighted by Netscape, fall under the
Oreilly free distribution without modification copyright.  This is a
copyright that in now way satisfies the definition of Open Source.

> Maybe I just see the problem from a too-simple point of view: ORA's
> making the ideas free.  If you want to modify them, _call them yours_.

Yes, I think your view of the problem was indeed too simple.  But I
also think that Rich's response was little more than some guy reciting
enlightenment mythology at us, far too simple, full of leaps and
bounds and more like a sermon than an explanation.

I think that the more thought could go into the issue of copyright for
things other than software.  The identity of the author is treated
differently in software, it is very muched minimalized (talk to any
succesful free software developer adn they always talk about how
little they did and how many many others were responsible. the classic
Linux reply even).  Whereas in something like these essays, it is the
identity of the author which is your primary produce even; their
ability to present a cohesive viewpoint, their social standing (do you
think a bunch of essays by no-name developers would have sold?), the
way in which they articulate supposedly dominant and acceptable
perspectives.  An with software documentation and many other things,
we have a whole spectrum of "densities" for the authorial identity to
assume in writing.

Craig Brozefsky        <>
Less matter, more form!      - Bruno Schulz
ignazz, I am truly korrupted by yore sinful tzourceware. -jb
The Osmonds! You are all Osmonds!! Throwing up on a freeway at dawn!!!