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Open Source Awards 2008

The Open Source Initiative ran the first Open Source Awards, but when we dropped them, Google and O'Reilly picked up the idea (yay!). Nominations are currently open, but close in a few short weeks.

You need more than free rocks

We're realizing is that Open Source is more than just free software. Free software is like free rocks. You need rocks, but rocks aren't enough to build a house. You get the Open Source effect only when you have a pyramid of people (roles, actually -- you can still get the Open Source effect if one person fulfills all these roles) associated with the project:

/ Editors \
/ Developers \
/ Contributors \
/ Contributors \

Patent owners and Open Source

Are you a patent holder, wondering how to write software which implements your patent? Here's my advice: Patents expire. Towards the end of the patent's lifetime, you want to be trying to transfer the patent's franchise over to the relationship between the patent-holder and the licensee. That can be done with closed-source software, but you risk competitors writing their own software. With Open Source software, as long as you manage the relationship with the user correctly, you end up with a franchise.

Microsoft needs to blush

OOXML needs to die. It's clear that OOXML is a faux standard -- not because it's a vendor standard. There are lots of vendor-created standards which are real standards (e.g. PostScript). No, OOXML is a botch because it's expressed in terms of an undocumented Microsoft graphics library. OOXML is all "and then a miracle occurs". You've seen that cartoon, right?

Who speaks for the Open Source Community?

Steve Ballmer asks, in an E*Week interview, who speaks for the Open Source Community, and answers his question by saying that nobody does. True enough! He then goes on to point out that Larry Ellison, he speaks for Oracle, yes. True enough! But who speaks for the proprietary software vendors? When we, the open source community, want to make an agreement with the proprietary software vendors, who do we talk to? Do we talk to Larry? Or Steve? Or Jonathan? Or Curley? Or Moe?

Russ Nelson to speak at Irish Web Technology Conference 2008

I've been invited to speak at the Irish Web Technology Conference 2008, in Dublin a week from today, on the subject of Open Source Licensing. If you assume that this is the Dublin in Ireland, and not any of the Dublins in California, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, or Virginia, you would be correct.

Kevin Kelly's Better than Free

Kevin Kelly's Better than Free blog posting has some useful insights for people trying to profit from their Open Source development. He speaks of "Generatives", which are attributes of something which are not, and cannot be, part of a free distribution.

User Licenses vs. Contributor Licenses

I'm starting to think that the dynamics of Open Source production are such that user licenses are crap. Yes, I'm saying that everything that we've put into licenses, all the thought, all the drama, all the durm-und-strang, is wasted. You might wonder why.

(Too-)Simple licenses

We've gotten a number of licenses submissions over the years, which attempt to be "succinter than thou". I guess that people feel that even a license as simple as the BSD license is too complicated.

Simple Public License (SimPL) approved

After a lengthy consideration, the Simple Public License (SimPL) has been added to the list of approved licenses. The concern was that because the SimPL is a reciprocal license, it could create its own ghetto of code unusable by any other project. However, because it contains language that allows relicensing under the GPL v2.0 or v3.0, this will not happen. That should give developers the confidence to adopt the SimPL without fear of marginalization.

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