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Re: Future of the `Open Source' trademark



[Note the CC to <opensource-consult@spi-inc.org>]

In article <13915.5522.573077.408144@chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
  spi@spi-inc.org (Software in the Public Interest) writes:
> I have just posted the message below to spi-announce.  It will
> hopefully be appearing in various free software related forums; I've
> submitted it to col.announce, gnu.announce and two freebsd groups,
> and I have a volunteer who is going to put it on slashdot.

> Apologies for the lack of communication from us while we were
> drafting this, but it has all had to be done in a terrible hurry to
> avoid the damage being done by Bruce et al spindoctoring.

Ian, I think you guys responded pretty well, in terms of timeliness.
I know that "corporate time" and "Internet time" often clash.  Cheers
for making all efforts to diclose the internals.  Jeers to those who
may flame SPI for "airing dirty laundry".  Putting matters into the
public sphere, the open air, is what freedom is all about.

> 3. PUBLIC CONSULTATION

> In accordance with SPI's Statement and Promises about Intellectual
> Property, the SPI board are conducting a public consultation
> exercise to determine the future of the Open Source trademark.

Have you considered setting up a voting machine to tally public
opinion on this?  This would be more accurate than trying to find
consensus from those who vocally respond.

> Broadly speaking, we can see four options:

> (a) Retain the mark, managed by Eric Raymond if he is willing.

> (b) Turn the mark over to another free software organisation.  Which
> one ?

> (c) Turn the mark over to the Open Source Initiative, which is in
> the process of being set up by Bruce Perens and others.

> (d) Retain the mark, and appoint new manager(s).  Who ?

I would say the following: conditionally turn over the mark to the
OSI, once it has been properly incorporated.

Personally I think it's just a matter of time before Debian and the
OSI splits (and probably in a violent, messy way).  Polite distancing
from "Open source" (phenomenon, trademark, corporation) is the best
approach.

I say this because I believe too strongly in the liberty implied in
'Free Software'; I see that the OSI representatives have consistently
shown that they believe that suppressing talk of freedom is an
acceptable price for the corporate acceptance of Free Software.  On
the other hand, myself, and I think Debian in general, and hopefully,
the SPI board members, believe that corporations should come to us;
not us to them.

Free software is at a crucial moment -- new volunteers (the "fourth
wave", I call them) are coming to the Free Software Movement in
droves.  But no one is talking to these new volunteers about freedom,
about the need to free software, to free up intellectual property
laws, and to free information in general for sharing by all.  Since no
one is talking about freedom to them, who is to say that to them the
freedom is just 'gratis' and not 'liberty'.  Is free software just
more warez to them?

Debian, and the SPI, joins RMS in trying to fill this role, to talk
about freedom.  Debian is a philosophic and *practical* exercise in
the freedom of software at work.  In fact, I'd argue that we're the
only large-scale free software institution, aside from the FSF, that
takes licensing seriously.  We accept being marginalized or scorned by
the community; we accept being a voice crying out in the wilderness,
if this is what it takes to keep our ethical stance.

Based on this, some might argue that we ought to retain the open
source trademark and wrest control away from its creators, or at least
control their excesses (if any).

However, I would argue that the sucess of the open source "media
blitz" is due to the fact that it has comprimised too far; it has
comprimized consciousness of freedom.

Live and let live; let them have the trademark, and good luck to them.
I know the SPI is not interested in sabotaging the open source
movement; nor, I would argue, are we particularly interested in
helping it.  As such, we should let the trademark go.

> We would be grateful if members of the free software development
> community would let us know their thoughts on the matters we've
> raised here.

> Please mail us at <opensource-consult@spi-inc.org>, giving your
> views and reasoning.  If you feel we might not know who you are,
> please also state your association with, and contribution to, the
> free software community.

Debian developer, GNU/Linux enthusiast since 1993 ("third wave"),
integrator and patcher for numerous free software projects.

--
.....Adam Di Carlo....adam@onShore.com.....<URL:http://www.onShore.com/>


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