nelson's blog

Why Open Core has a problem and is not a problem.

Pamela Jones, of Groklaw, thinks that OSI has a problem in Open Core. I think she has it backwards. The Open Core (most notably SugarCRM) folks have a problem. They'd like to convince people that they can achieve the open source effect by having two versions of their code: an open source version, and a proprietary version. They'd like to convince people that their proprietary code is going to benefit from the open source effect. Good luck with that!

Open Data Definition at OSCON

I'm running a BOF at OSCON on Wednesday night July 21st at 7PM, with the declared purpose of adopting an Open Source Definition for Open Data. Safe enough to say that the OSD has been quite successful in laying out a set of criteria for what is, and what is not, Open Source. We should adopt a definition Open Data, even if it means merely endorsing an existing one.

Will you join me there?

Exporting Open Source from the US

If you distribute Open Source software containing encryption from the United States, you are subject to US export controls, yes. But are there any real restrictions? The only thing that the law requires you to do (for Open Source) is send an email to with the URL. So why do SourceForge and Google impose greater restrictions than the law requires? Anybody know?

Open Source, MySQL, and trademarks

Greg Stein (Apache developer and all-around nice guy) made an off-hand comment about open source trademarks in an article(How to Screw Your (Open Source Software) Customers). He was talking about how many users of MySQL have actually using a purchased proprietary licensed copy of the software, and not the open source licensed copy. MySQL's business model uses dual licensing: the GPL, and for the folks whom its strictures are unacceptable, a standard proprietary license.

Copyrights and patents not so important, economist says

Michele Boldrin of Washington University in St. Louis talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about intellectual property and Boldrin's book, co-written with David Levine, Against Intellectual Property. Boldrin argues that copyright and patent are used by the politically powerful to maintain monopoly profits. He argues that the incentive effects that have been used to justify copyright and patents are exaggerated--few examples from history suggest that the temporary and not-so-temporary monopoly power from copyright and patents were necessary to induce innovation. Boldrin reviews some of that evidence and talks about the nature of competition. Listen to the interview.


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