Re: Licensing issues for OVC production software...

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sat May 29 2004 - 20:04:12 CDT

On May 29, 2004, at 7:43 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:
> It says, "Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this
> software and
> its documentation for educational, research and non-profit purposes,
> without
> fee..." If our vendors sign contracts with jurisdictions to deliver
> the
> voting system that includes OVC software, they are expecting to make a
> profit. Would this conflict with this particular part of the UC
> statement?

Nah. No conflict.

What OVC, or OVC-member vendors, sell isn't permission to copy the
software, but a variety of services related to the integrity and
performance of the software. The "buyers" (counties, states, etc) are
interested in chain of custody, certification guarantees, hardware
compatibility, repair and remediation during elections (but -not-
changing the certified code), data integrity, legal compliance of
customizations (e.g. precinct-specific ballots), and the like.
Permission to copy doesn't prohibit charging for those things. In
fact, permission to copy doesn't even prohibit a buyer paying for
copies (it just doesn't require it).

Sure a county can make 7000 copies of a CD, even without paying any
money. But those copies don't come with any of the support vendors can
provide. Basically, to get what they really need, a county would have
to decide to act as its own vendor; not impossible by any means, but
probably not the model most jurisdictions will adopt. Still, if a
jurisdiction wants to use its own staff to manage elections, we should
allow and encourage that. Presumably a county would need to meet the
same standards as a commercial vendor if they want their systems to
carry the "OVC-certified" service mark (and ideally that mark becomes
something every election wants to have).
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Received on Mon May 31 23:18:13 2004

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