[Discuss] free/open licenses could discourage participation just because they're unusual

J. Simmons jrs at mach30.org
Tue May 6 04:25:55 UTC 2014

That is very interesting, Alicia.  I think I remember reading the results
of that survey, but I had forgotten that part.  I wonder what a similar
question in the open source software community would reveal.  And I wonder
if the Creative Commons approach on their website of explaining their
licenses leads to wider adoption because of greater understanding.



On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 12:00 AM, alicia <amgibb at gmail.com> wrote:

> To the original question whether we have any data on this topic, we have
> some data that is slightly tangential but interesting to the conversation.
> When we asked the oshw community in a survey (2013 & 2012) nearly half the
> people did not use any type of open license with their files. When asked
> why, the main response was that the licenses were too difficult for a
> non-lawyer to understand.
> Alicia
> On Mon, May 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM, Mario Gómez <mxgxw.alpha at gmail.com>wrote:
>> I don't completely agree with that... We are talking about a widely used
>> piece of software not an obscure project that no-one knew.
>> If the licensing could have been an important factor, then not many
>> people would have been using it in the first place. I mean, it's like
>> saying that you don't want to collaborate on the development because the
>> licensing used but at the same time you fully agree to incorporate it on
>> your software or use software that incorporates it. That doesn't make a lot
>> of sense.
>> As JS said on his reply, this problem could have many layers of
>> causations, but I don't agree that the licensing could be the main reason.
>> However, as many of you already said, there is practically no reasons to
>> create a new license when you have a pretty well defined catalog of
>> different "approved" licenses that could be used on different contexts.
>> Also I fully agree that using a custom license just because you'll want to
>> be "different" it's a really bad practice.
>> For me, appears that heartbleed is the result of the conjunction of
>> several bad practices that could happen on any Open Source (or even
>> closed-source) software.
>> 1-A small (under-funded?) team working on a critical software
>> application. This is not bad as the team know their own limitations. I
>> mean, no one cared seriously about funding OpenSSL until a dangerous
>> vulnerability was found, now all the "big players" (even Microsoft) want to
>> fund them.
>> 2-Ignoring expert technical advice about security issues on the code.
>> This was evidenced by the feedback provided by the OpenBSD team over
>> several vulnerabilities on the code that was ignored in favor of
>> performance optimizations.
>> 3-Failing to implement a strong peer-review and code auditing
>> methodologies to early spot security flaws. As I understand there was only
>> one review to the commit that generated the heartbleed bug. How it's
>> possible that a critical piece of source code was reviewed only by one
>> person?
>> Looking at those other issues, I fail to see how the decision made about
>> the license used could have prevented any of that happening. It's really
>> possible that some developers were discouraged to participate, but the
>> people that really cared (OpenBSD team) participated on trying to fix many
>> bugs before Heartbleed came and none of them has said that the license
>> prevented them to participate on the development.
>> I would say, about licenses, that the problem it's not the license used,
>> but instead the fact that many of the developers doesn't care about the
>> license of the software... The lawyers in corporate environments are the
>> ones that care (As Chris exemplified on his experience)... just look at the
>> statistics of github,  50% of the repositories hosted over there doesn't
>> even specify a license and that doesn't prevent many developers to
>> participate over it.
>> Regards,
>> Mario.
>> On Fri, May 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM, Chris Sigman <cypris87 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I had a client once that wouldn't let us use any OSS, even though before
>>> licenses it would save a 250K, all because his lawyer didn't feel there was
>>> enough legal precedent around the licenses. Not quite the same, but
>>> illustrates the conservatism of some people related to licensing.
>>> Chris
>>> _______________________________________________
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>>> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
>>> http://lists.oshwa.org/listinfo/discuss
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J. Simmons, President
Mach 30: Foundation for Space Development
<https://www.facebook.com/Mach30>  <http://twitter.com/mach_30>

*~ ad astra per civitatem ~*to the stars through community
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