[Discuss] "Open" licenses

alicia amgibb at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 19:38:11 UTC 2014

+1 Catarina!!

On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 1:35 PM, Catarina Mota <catarina at openmaterials.org>

> Hi all,
> Let me start with a disclaimer: I'm on the last weeks of phd dissertation
> writing and probably much grumpier than usual. So, provoking a scholar of
> open source at this stage is very similar to poking a very angry bear :)
> Having said that, here's why I don't understand all this confusion and
> discussion about wether NC licenses are open source or not.
> We all use words to communicate and what allows us to do that is that
> those words have a meaning we all understand. When I say "resistor" you all
> know what I'm referring to and that a resistor is not, for example, a
> capacitor. Well, 16 years ago a group of free software advocates got
> together in a strategy session in Palo Alto and coined the term "open
> source" - see this history article <http://opensource.org/history> for
> details. Since words and expressions need meanings they then wrote a
> definition of what "open source" means <http://opensource.org/osd>.
> According to this definition - the meaning of the label "open source" -
> goods distributed with an NC clause cannot be called open source. So that's
> pretty simple: "open source" is what it was defined to mean, no more no
> less.
> Now, words and expressions evolve with use, of course, and often take on
> new meanings. But in this case - since the originators of the term
> specifically said that to be open source a license cannot discriminate
> against fields of endeavor (and specifically mention business) - I think it
> would be extremely unfair to use their term to mean the opposite of they
> wanted. While everyone is free to define the terms under which they want to
> distribute a good, it really isn't right to co-opt a term that means so
> much to so many people. Just as I'd be really upset if someone used my name
> to refer to, for example, beating a dog - or something else I strongly
> disapprove of.
> There isn't a lack of words in most languages - so why not just create a
> new term or use something that actually means what they are doing? The
> group who coined the term "open source" went to great lengths to define its
> meaning in very specific terms - so why all this questioning of what open
> source means?
> I do understand however that the question people are discussing on this
> thread refers to "open hardware" not "open source hardware," which makes
> matters more complicated, but I just wanted to get the "open source" part
> out of the way :)
> On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 2:06 PM, Jeffrey Warren <jeff at publiclab.org> wrote:
>> Definitely not open hardware. These things (right to sell, right to use
>> regardless of application) are specifically protected!
>> They're also part of the four freedoms of free software. Maybe we need a
>> similarly easy to remember list to reference.
>> On Jul 3, 2014 8:07 PM, "Matt Maier" <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> If they don't even mention any of the established "open source" licenses
>>> it's a safe bet their license isn't actually open.
>>> Just from a quick scan this one obviously violates a couple principles.
>>> It doesn't allow you to sell anything, which is a point of contention
>>> anyway. But the worst thing (in my mind) is that it restricts fields of
>>> endeavor and associated technology. You're only allowed to use the
>>> "reference material" to do work that is based on their product and benefits
>>> their technology. You can't use it for whatever you're interested in.
>>> Basically they're allowing you to do some of their user testing and R&D
>>> for them, but without being able to benefit from the work yourself (sell
>>> something or use it in your own projects).
>>> I would call this license "not open." The few things they do allow don't
>>> make up for the things they don't allow.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Matt
>>> On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 5:27 AM, Michael McCormack <
>>> mike at themccormacks.com> wrote:
>>>> Is there anyone who routinely reviews licenses to say "yes" or "no" to
>>>> open?  I was looking at license associated the ST NUCLEO boards:
>>>> http://www.st.com/st-web-ui/static/active/en/resource/legal/legal_agreement/license_agreement/open_platform_license_agreement_v3.pdf
>>>> and off the top of my head, I'd say it is pretty much not what most
>>>> people consider the term open to mean as it limits my use to only their
>>>> products.  I realize that they may not have any legal grounds to limit my
>>>> use, as hardware is subject to patents and not copyrights and without a
>>>> patent on their boards they probably have nothing to license.  But my
>>>> question is more general though prompted ST non-open-license - is there
>>>> someplace that weighs in on whether a someone's new license is open or not?
>>>> --
>>>> Cheers
>>>> Mike
>>>> Michael McCormack
>>>> mike at themccormacks.com
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