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OSI Board Blog

Some news is good news--online coaches will help shape $5 million ideas

The August 7th press release from Miami reads

Fifty coaches are standing by online to help innovative thinkers apply for the Knight News Challenge, a $5 million-a-year contest to move journalism into the 21st Century. The coaches-made up of past jurors and winners-will give News Challenge hopefuls a better chance of winning up to $5 million in prizes annually. They also hope to attract a more diverse range of ideas.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has funded the contest with $25 million over five years. Its goal is to discover new ways of using digital technology to meet the information needs of geographic communities. Last year's contest received 3,000 applications. It named 16 winners.

And the best news for the open source community? The rules stipulate that applications must:

OSI and License Proliferation

License proliferation has been a topic for discussion for quite a while now in the FOSS community and many would like to see the Open Source Initiative (OSI) fix this problem for good. In a license proliferation report, the OSI lists three problems that people generally see with license proliferation:

$60B less for proprietary software = $60B more customer value

Dave Rosenberg has picked up the story being spun by The Standish Group that says

Open Source software is raising havoc throughout the software market. It is the ultimate in disruptive technology, and while to it is only 6% of estimated trillion dollars IT budgeted annually, it represents a real loss of $60 billion in annual revenues to software companies," said Jim Johnson, Chairman, The Standish Group International, Boston, MA

I agree with Dave's take, which is that this story is very much a glass half-full/glass half-empty story.

Microsoft + Novell = Monopoly 2.0?

The O'Reilly Open Source Conference is one of the premier events for hackers, executives, users, and industry analysts to share and discuss open source trends, strategies, and perspectives. It has been so successful for so long that Microsoft couldn't let it continue without becoming a top sponsor, which they have now been for a number of years. One thing that sponsorship buys is a keynote speaking slot, and Microsoft's Sam Ramji took that slot on the final day of the 2008 conference.

Sam's message to the audience, which included leading open source companies, open source project leaders, board members, venture capitalists, etc., is that Microsoft is truly, truly interested in

Defending Open Source

When you see somebody abusing the term "Open Source", please tell us. But also tell them. Let them know that they have lost your trust as a business. Let them know that their use is fradulent (misrepresentation with an intent to profit from it). Let them know that they are confusing their customers. Confused customers do one of two things: they either go away and find another vendor who doesn't confuse them, or they purchase the product and then bad-mouth it to their friends because it wasn't as represented. Look for the Open Source Approved License logo, including the green keyhole.

PJ's bottom line--a new line for the OSI?

Pamela Jones (aka PJ), the groklaw blogger, asks and answers the question OK. But What Does It Mean? (Jacobsen v. Katzer), saying that

It means that while OSI's handling of a list of approved licenses worked very well for a community made up of FOSS programmers, who are decent folks all on the same page overall, now that enemies of FOSS are attacking, we need a new organization to vet licenses going forward a lot more carefully, one made up of experienced FOSS lawyers, none of them with a history of hostility to, or ignorance of, the GPL, with the community as advisors.

Jacobsen v. Katzer case decision (from Mark Radcliffe)

On August 13, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued its decision in the Jacobsen v. Katzer case. http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/08-1001.pdf This case was the first real test of the remedies for breach of open source licenses in US courts (for more background, see http://lawandlifesiliconvalley.blogspot.com/2007/08/new-open-source-legal-decision-jacobsen.html.

An obvious reason to use Open Source

Let's say that you want to build the highest building in your {village,town,county,state,country}. Your resources are limited, as they always are. Should you start building from the ground up? Or should you make use of the community foundation that Open Source developers have created? Your choice should be obvious. You may choose to build from the ground up, but your competitors are not likely to make that mistake.

Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses.

Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses. It's about community. Of course everyone knows about Richard Stallman's concern about having the freedom to modify all software on his machine. Tim O'Reilly has had a concern for many years that Open Source licenses do not keep software Open Source when it is not being distributed but instead performed as in Web 2.0 applications.

How Open Source Is Your Open Source?

Michael DeHaan has an excellent post entitled "How Open Source Is Your Open Source?". I dare say it is his best post despite getting in a few (Linux) distro biased comments. He proposes a set of community standards that determine the real health and openness of Open Source. In my opinion, a major problem with OSI at the moment is that it perpetuates (mainly indeliberately) that a mere license makes something Open Source. In my view, an Open Source license is really the first step in making software Open Source.

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