[sclug] Cheap'n'nasty Tesco Linux machines

Alex Butcher lug at assursys.co.uk
Wed Apr 9 10:13:46 UTC 2008

Oh boy, where to begin...

On Wed, 9 Apr 2008, Tom Carbert-Allen wrote:

> My point was that 'open source' purely means something to which the
> internal construction is available freely, not the name of a bunch of guys
> who started a foundation. I now find myself in the very rare and
> un-comfortable place of saying the US patent office seems to have done
> something correctly by refusing the patent.

In case that wasn't just a thinko, it was a *trademark* was applied for, not
a patent. The two are quite different things.

> In my mind the terms open source/free source/public domain code etc all
> mean pretty much the same and represent a catagrory not a method or
> product,

Yes; Open Source as defined by ESR et al has a pretty wide definition, and
so is a superset of FSF-defined Free Software, BSD software, Mozilla Public
License'd software, Sun Public License'd software and so on (see
<http://www.opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical> for the complete list). It
doesn't include *everything* though; any license which seeks OSI approval
needs to meet their defintion - <http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd>.
Obviously, this excludes source-free Freeware (i.e. gratis software, like
Microsoft Internet Explorer, say) is most certainly not Open Source, but
would also exclude something that was licensed under a slightly-tweaked GPL
that specifically disallowed armaments companies from using and/or
distributing it.

> so to put the ownership of one of them to a group of guys, no
> matter how good there intentions, seems incorrect. I have no objections
> with them promoting the good name of the cause, but to claim ownership of
> any term unless it's a new name they have come up with for software they
> have written then it seems a little weak.

But the problem is that without trademark protection, *anyone* can call
their software 'open source' if they want to, regardless of whether it meets
the OSI's definition or not. By seeking trademark protection, the OSI could
have decided who was allowed to call their software 'Open Source(TM)' or
not. Use of the trademark would probably have been licensed freely to anyone
who met the OSI's definition, or they might have been legally compelled to
require a peppercorn consideration in order for the licensing of the
trademark to be legally valid. My views are more in line with the FSF than
the OSI, but even I don't perceive them as attempting to set up a
profit-making 'Open Source tollbooth'.


Best Regards,
Alex Butcher, Bristol UK.                           PGP/GnuPG ID:0x5010dbff

"[T]he whole point about the reason why I think it is important we go for
identity cards and an identity database today is that identity fraud and
abuse is a major, major problem. Now the civil liberties aspect of it, look
it is a view, I don't personally think it matters very much."
  - Tony Blair, 6 June 2006 <http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page9566.asp>

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