[Namaste-dev] Re: Weekly Plan June 2 - June 6

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Thu Jun 5 08:01:56 PDT 2008

Michelle wrote:
> What do you all think of using Creative Commons licensing for the engineering effort?
Those licenses are good for documentation and media. But not intended 
for use with software and schematics. John Ackermann, AMSAT and TAPR's 
voluntary legal counsel on these matters, has put a lot of thought into 
the OHL for hardware use. I would suggest an OSI-accepted Open Source 
license for software and OHL for hardware designs. And of the more than 
70 OSI-accepted licenses there are about 4 I would recommend. The main 
concern there is that they are enforcible, that they give maximal legal 
protection to the developer, that they are well-accepted in the Open 
Source community, and that if possible there is experience with them 
actually being considered in a published court finding.

We have a really bad story of a model-train software developer whose 
software was used in a commercial model train throttle, and then the 
manufacturer of the throttle brought a patent suit against the Open 
Source developer to dissuade him from distributing his own software 
without the commercial product, The software is called JMRI, for Java 
Model Railroad Interface. His license was supposed to protect him and 
didn't hold up in court. So, we need to choose the licenses carefully 
and consult with Ackermann on this.
> Bruce, does your dual-license system extend to multisource engineering efforts like this?
It works best when copyright assignment is part of the system. In this 
case AMSAT could be the copyright holder. One copyright holder makes 
decisions easier, and if you have to go to court the judge takes your 
standing more seriously if you own the whole copyright. In my case the 
copyright is assigned to my own company, and I make a covenant to the 
contributors of modifications to release continuing development that 
includes their modifications as Open Source for the subsequent year.
> Would you be willing to share a copy of your license with us so we can learn more about what a working dual license system looks like?
I am using the Affero GPL 3. 
It addresses the specific problem of software as a service performed 
over the web rather than software that is always distributed to the 
customer. There are different license choices according to the 
circumstances, that's not the license I would recommend for this.

The commercial license is negotiable with the purchaser. The important 
part about it is that it doesn't have any of the "reciprocal" or 
"share-and-share-alike" elements that would require release of the 
customer's own copyrighted work under the same license.



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