Subject: Re: EROS license
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 11:38:56 -0400 (EDT)

Ian Lance Taylor writes:
 >    From: Russell Nelson <>
 >    Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 00:21:03 -0400 (EDT)
 >     > When I explicitly reserve the right to gather up everybody's
 >     > contributions and use them in ways that nobody else can, it's pretty
 >     > clear that some of us are more equal than others.
 >    Well, given the circumstances (a major contribution of code by a
 >    single party), there's no escaping that fact.  Even if the original
 >    creator puts the code in the public domain, they still know more about
 >    the code than anyone else.  And since they wrote the majority of the
 >    code, their name is on the majority of it.
 > Of course; I assume that you are just commenting, and that you do
 > understand my point.

I understand and disagree with it.  It sounds to me like your
objection is based on the injustice of inequality.  In this instance,
by definition inequality exists.

 > It's not clear to me that the incentive question is crying out for an
 > answer.  After all, we have free software programs that are much
 > larger than BitKeeper.  Cygnus invests more in free software every
 > year than Larry and his angels have invested in BitKeeper (at least,
 > so I assume based on the number of employees).

I'd also note that some of the code they created outright is
proprietary, presumably because they feel that they cannot make their
investment back without it.

But as a counter-example to my own argument, RedHat created RPMs, and
is paying people to write Gnome from scratch.

But as a counter-counter example, I presume that Larry wouldn't have
written BitKeeper for free.  He had the opportunity to do so and
didn't take it.

 > You have argued on other occasions that open source software is so
 > clearly superiour that customers will start to demand it.  If that is
 > true, then we do not need any additional incentives.

Like any other public good (where the combined gain is greater than
the combined cost), it is expected to be undersupplied if the private
gain is less than the private cost.  Dual-licensing helps increase the
private gain, or else it won't be used.

 > BitKeeper is not open source software anyhow: copies of BitKeeper are
 > required to have to logging code built in, and they are required to
 > pass the testsuite.  So it's not really an example of the kind of dual
 > licensing we are talking about.

I agree: not really.  It's dual-licensing, but neither license grants
"enough" freedom.

-russ nelson <>
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