Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 17:31:38 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

   Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 20:24:14 -0500
   From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>

   For years I've been asking everyone to demonstrate this objection is
   real by pointing me to a copy of the current for-sale Cygnus stuff up
   for ftp.  It hasn't happened yet.

    Ian> Well, I think quite a few people have explained to you why it
    Ian> isn't particularly likely.  What don't you believe about the
    Ian> explanation?

Well, actually, Brian has a point, although not the one he's pressing
(comments about "Cygnus/gcc ... that behaves proprietarily" are just
absurd IMHO[1]).

Cygnus does have a PR problem.  Just go to www.cygnus.com, and do a
search on "license."  Look at what you get related to "Code Fusion"
and "Source Navigator."  Not much, and nothing explicit.

Sigh.  They are pretty clearly not free:  this is not stated explictly
anywhere that I could find :-( but the FAQ for Source Navigator
clearly states it will not run if it doesn't find a license file in
the right place, and the FAQ for Code Fusion remarks that you can
distribute your project without Code Fusion if you need to distribute
an open source development version---the project will still build with
the usual GNU tools.  If they _are_ free, I don't see the need for
such circuitous language, and I couldn't find any statement that they
are free in a brief browse of the site.

I was really disappointed that each product page did not have a
"License" link.  eCos's (http://www.cygnus.com/ecos/ecoslicense.html)
is really well done; I wish such effort had been expended on the other
products.  Most of them are GPL, so an economical webmaster could just
point to http://www.gnu.org/ ;-).

I think that any organization truly motivated by the free or open
source software spirits should have such a link for each product.  It
is akin to the GNU GPL requirement that a pointer to the file COPYING
be displayed in the program's startup banner and in the documentation.
Certainly anybody who opposes "click-wrap" licenses should have them.

No question that the ability to put at the top of your home page "All
of our products proudly licensed under the terms of the GNU <A>General
Public License</A>" would make a big difference to most in the _free_
software community.  But I think an open statement about which
products are free and which have more restrictive licenses would
certainly be enough for most in the _open source_ software community,
however desirable they think making all products open source would be.

Next, look at Cygnus's Mission Statement.  It could be considered to
be weasel-worded; it says that "infrastructure software" should be
free.  Evidently (given that my understanding of the licenses for
Source Navigator and Code Fusion is correct), Cygnus considers that
OSes and compilers are infrastructure, but that code browsers and
database-driven GUI IDEs are not.  I consider that an honest enough
statement, although not completely forthright (given the absence of
links for licenses on the Source Navigator and Code Fusion pages).

I like Cygnus; I like the people who work there now and in the past
(as they present themselves on this and other FS fora, I've only met
two in person AFAIK and few in private email); I think Cygnus has been
very much a positive force in the _free_ software community even
though their overall behavior is apparently more compatible with the
_open source_ software philosophy.  I would go so far as to say that
picking on these minor PR issues to condemn Cygnus requires a pretty
small mind (or that of a pedantic academic; I plead guilty to the
latter, and do not condemn, rather, I approve of Cygnus ;-).

But I do perceive a real PR problem here.  I suspect that Cygnus wants
to think of itself as a pure free software business, even though some
of its headline products are not free software.  If its IDE products
are in fact free, then I'd like to know what the rationale for the
licensing restrictions on the commercial versions of Code Fusion and
Source Navigator is.  Either way, I don't find Cygnus's business
practices to be transparent, and I'm not surprised that some people
view their policies with suspicion.


Footnotes: 
[1]  Remember, with _one_ sale at the market price any would-be
competitor to Cygnus has paid back its entire investment in _buying_
the package from Cygnus, or from one of Cygnus's customers.

The U.S. military pays, in spades, for its second-source policy on
weaponry.  Cygnus's ordinary customers can get second source support
for free (they already have source code).  For would-be competitors,
here are the prices for source :-) licenses at Cygnus:

	     http://www.netsales.net/pk.wcgi/cygnus/home

There are a couple of exceptions.  eCos isn't there; I'm not lawyer
enough to know if its license is "free", but it sure looks like a good 
try to me.  I don't know what, if anything, you pay for a license to
eCos.  Source Navigator and Code Fusion are, I believe, not free.

But everything else is GPL and so comes with source.  Pretty cheap if
you want to set up as a competitor to Cygnus---you can buy the whole
toolchain and still not go much over the bill for a family Xmas dinner.

Why doesn't somebody do so?  Pretty obvious, I think.  GNUPro is
advertised as a carefully selected snapshot of the toolchain
development process, certified by Cygnus to work, and supported by
them.  Anybody else but Cygnus would have a very hard time supporting
that snapshot as well as Cygnus can, and if you're going to go with a
different one, why not go with the bleeding edge---which nobody, not
even Cygnus, can support well?  But all of those factors are simply
advantages to Cygnus's service department; the source itself is still
free, and if you're that good, you, too, can build a business around it.

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."