Re: Document on Holt bill (was Re: I need your help today-- oppose Holt bill as introduced)

From: Brian Behlendorf <brian_at_behlendorf_dot_com>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 15:03:33 CDT

On Fri, 26 Jun 2009, Brian Fox wrote:
> Hi Brian -
>
> What exactly are you suggesting?

That the legislation not specify the GPL as the license to use on the
software created with public funds, which would prevent Open Source
products not under the GPL from using the code. It doesn't need to -
allow it to be licensed either completely as public domain or if that's
not possible under a modified-BSD or Apache license, which places very few
requirements on downstream redistributors.

The problem is that GPL has, unfortunately and unfairly, become a code
word for anti-commercial, rather than transparency-enhancing. There are
groups fighting that unfair depiction that are worth supporting. But pick
your battles. If you can get what you want with non-copyleft licensing,
and the risk and cost of derivative proprietary products is low (which
they are, IMHO) then don't add the complication. OVC should not try to
send a message, inadvertantly, that the only way to get to open voting is
through an anti-commercial approach.

On Fri, 26 Jun 2009, Alan Dechert wrote:
> Well, now, that's interesting, Brian. I will give that some thought. I
> wonder what others think of that.
>
> On the one hand, I'd like to see the funding for non proprietary
> accessibility technology included. In fact, this part of the bill says
> almost exactly what I asked Rush Holt to include when he called me on the
> phone last year.
>
> On the other hand, I'm skeptical about the funding doing any good. OVC would
> probably not get any of the money. And unless the work is really good and
> fits with our system, it may not be useful to us. So, I wouldn't necessarily
> consider it a great loss if it were taken out.

That's not the counterpoint - sorry if my curt reply caused confusion. By
all means, if gov money will be spent on accessibility technology, they
should be licensed in a way that maximizes its ability to be used and
re-used widely. Open Source licenses create a great model for this, but
there are many Open Source licenses that are not the GPL, and the GPL
actually only allows re-use within the GPL community. The opposite of
"proprietary" is not "GPL". Any GPL licensed package, like OVC, could
use this tech if it's licensed public domain, modified-BSD, or Apache.
But the contrary is not true.

         Brian

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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:15 2009

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