Subject: Apple and Open Source
From: Simon Cozens <>
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 11:42:59 +0100

Oh, it's gone quiet, so I'll throw out a controversial one.


So, what is it with Apple and Open Source? Once upon a time, when they were
desperate to get an operating system written, they were bending over backwards
to attract open source hackers - even going through a few iterations of the
ASPL and giving up their precious rights to own any modifications to the
software in order to have the license certified Open Source.

Now, on the other hand, they're sending cease-and-desist letters to open
source projects ( which appear to be nothing but
thinly-disguised and baseless threats. Of course, the cynical explanation
would be that the persecution of MacThemes could well be related to Apple's
own patent on themes - a patent which MacThemes predates. Removing the
visibility of prior art would be a useful step in securing the ligitimacy of
that patent.

Is this behaviour compatible with their desire to be seen to be part of the
Open Source movement - in fact, *is* there such a desire on the part of Apple
to be counted as an Open Source vendor? Or are they stuck in the old economy
and still playing the game for purely selfish interests?

An alternative and slightly more charitable explanation would be that Apple's
right hand - the developers - doesn't know what its left hand - the legal team
- is doing. Of course, if this is the case, and Apple will court you with the
one hand and savage you with the other, does it really make sound business
sense for any company to deal with them?

Simon Cozens
NetThink Open Source Consultancy