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Updated: 11 hours 11 min ago

Google vs Oracle: Resolved in Favor of Open Source

Fri, 2021-04-09 10:12

We are pleased to report that Google vs. Oracle*, the landmark copyright case in the US courts about software interoperability, has been resolved favorably for open source developers. It’s been a long road to get here but it’s something the courts were always going to have to address -- is modern technology best served by the copyright maximalism that has long been promoted by the content industry or should we instead re-examine some of those assumptions to facilitate multi-company platform interoperability? The Supreme Court of the United States did not take on the full scope of the question but did provide some very helpful guidance. 

 

This was such an important question that OSI filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court to advocate on behalf of the open source community.** We filed in support of Google because the position Oracle was taking -- that it’s a copyright infringement to use API’s even when they are being used solely to create interoperability -- would’ve been disastrous for open source. Shared APIs (application programming interfaces) are essential for interoperability and innovation. 

 

Oracle acquired Sun in early 2010 and took over stewardship of Java. Oracle then sued Google for patent and copyright infringement over the Java code in November of 2010. The patent infringement case was quickly dismissed, leaving only the copyright complaints. This legal battle has been long and drawn out, including two trips to the Court of Appeals and two trips to the Supreme Court. In 2019 the Supreme Court agreed to hear Google’s second appeal about whether API’s are copyrightable and, if copyrightable, whether Google’s copying of the declaring code, but not the implementing code, was a “fair use” as provided for in US copyright law. On April 5th of this year, the Supreme Court sidestepped the issue of copyrightability but did rule that Google's implementation of the Java APIs for the purpose of creating the Android platform is fair use with some guidance of great help in future cases: “where Google reimplemented a user interface taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google’s copying of the Sun Java API was a fair use of that material as a matter of law.”

 

OSI is very pleased that the courts ruled in favor of fair use and provided some guidance on how to determine in what ways the open source community can continue to reimplement APIs as it has done for the last two decades. We look forward to assisting the US courts in their evolving and deepening understanding of open source norms, when new cases that affect developer communities inevitably arise. 

 

The Wikipedia entry on all the back and forth is exceedingly thorough. Folks who are interested can read the whole Supreme Court ruling, here.

 

* Both parties to this case (Google and Sun Microsystems renamed Oracle America Inc) have at some point been OSI Sponsors and in taking sides OSI considered the merits of the argument not the merits of the parties.

 

** For our non-lawyer friends, “Amicus curiae briefs” are filings made by a “friend of the court.” In this case it refers to information offered by a third party that has context about how the ruling will affect parties beyond the named parties.

Categories: FLOSS Research

OSI Response to RMS’s reappointment to the Board of the Free Software Foundation

Tue, 2021-03-23 13:34

To fully realize the promise of open source, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) is committed to building an inclusive environment where a diverse community of contributors feel welcome. This is clearly not possible if we include those who have demonstrated a pattern of behavior that is incompatible with these goals.

Richard M. Stallman recently announced that he will be returning to the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a statement that the FSF has not denied. We believe it is inappropriate for Stallman to hold any leadership position in the free and open source software community. If we do not speak out against this, our silence may be misinterpreted as support.

The Open Source Initiative calls upon the Free Software Foundation to hold Stallman responsible for past behavior, remove him from the organization’s leadership and work to address the harm he caused to all those he has excluded: those he considers less worthy, and those he has hurt with his words and actions. We will not participate in any events that include Richard M. Stallman and we cannot collaborate with the Free Software Foundation until Stallman is removed from the organization’s leadership.  

Free and open source software will not be accessible to all until it is safe for everyone to participate, and we therefore call upon our peers in the broader software community to join us in making these commitments. 
 

– The OSI Board of Directors

Categories: FLOSS Research

OSI Election Update: Trust and Transparency in the 2021 Board Election

Tue, 2021-03-23 11:49

We are committed to nothing less than complete restoration of trust in OSI elections, and transparency as to precisely what went wrong with our initial 2021 Board Election.

 

While our Board was initially confident we could re-run a successful election starting today, lots of people have raised quite reasonable doubts--and then some less reasonable fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) seeped into the discourse. We’re changing plans accordingly.

 

Below is an action plan for bringing transparency to the 2021 Board Elections and restoring trust among the community in our elections.

 

Most importantly, we will publish a detailed report here on our blog and ensure the electorate has been fully informed before we re-run the election.

 

Here is our plan:

  1. Engage an independent forensic expert to investigate the process and technology and report on their findings.
  2. Charter an Oversight Committee including a mix of current board members (excluding any who were running for reelection) and highly trusted and visible long term members of the OSI community in good standing.
  3. Have the Oversight Committee receive the forensic report, summarize their findings, and, at their discretion, make recommendations to the Board.
  4. Board decides on a course of action, and publishes the report after adding details about its own deliberations and both short- and long-term action plans.
  5. Communicate the report publicly as well as directly to voting members of OSI.
  6. Run the election again.

 

Through this plan of action, we intend to clear everything up and demonstrate to everyone in the community just how committed OSI is to doing right by you. After all, OSI is an organization of, by, and for the community.

 

We thank you for your patience and understanding, and will be posting weekly status updates until this is resolved. We do not anticipate that this will take very long.

 

OSI Board & Staff

Categories: FLOSS Research

Re-Running Our 2021 Board Election

Fri, 2021-03-19 17:06

We've already let our candidates, affiliate representatives and voting members know, but we also wanted to let the public know. This week we found a vulnerability in our voting processes that was exploited and had an impact on the outcome of the recent Board Election. That vulnerability has now been closed. OSI will engage an independent expert to do a forensic investigation to help us understand how this happened and put measures in place to keep it from ever happening again.

Because it is critical to the integrity of our elections process and the trust of our members and the public place in OSI, we’ve made a decision to rerun our 2021 board elections for both Individual and Affiliate seats. We do appreciate that this means extra time and attention from our candidates and from our voting members. For that, we are very sorry. We want to make absolutely sure that the Board Election accurately represents the will of our voters and in this instance, that means we must run it again.

New election starts: March 23rd, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. PDT
New election closes: April 2nd, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. PDT

Your new ballot will again come from Helios. (The vulnerability was with an internal piece of our process, not Helios.) We sincerely hope you will take the time to vote again and help us choose our future board members.

Please know that the OSI is absolutely committed to transparency. When we better understand how this  happened, we will share the details with you and the public.

If you have any questions, please let us know.
Thank you for supporting the OSI,
Deb Nicholson
Interim General Manager

Categories: FLOSS Research

OSI Events: Future & Recent Appearances

Thu, 2021-03-11 15:27

Are you missing catching up with OSI at events? We miss it too! We have been staying busy with online events and hope you’ll be able to stay current with us from the comfort of your home. This weekend is the 13th FOSSASIA event. FOSSASIA is an OSI Affiliate organization and this year’s event takes place from March 13th to March 21st. OSI’s Vice President, Hong Phuc Dang will deliver the opening keynote on Saturday. 

 

Videos are also now available for many staff and board appearances from the last two months, including many from FOSDEM. 

 

NEW STAGES & BACKSTAGE 

 

The Open Road is a brand new podcast about open source, focusing on best practices in community building, hosted by long-time community leaders Brian Profitt and Rich Bowen. Their inaugural episode, “What is Onboarding?” featured our General Manager, Deb Nicholson plus Mary Thengvall and Sarah Finn.  

 

Tidelift’s Luis Villa and OSI’s Board President, Josh Simmons are starting up a new casual Friday chat about free software topics. Their first confab was with Deb Nicholson and took place on March 4th. Catch the first conversation and learn more about the series, here.

 

In case you missed it, FOSS Backstage on February 10 featured an all-star panel with OSI Board members Josh Simmons and Hong Phuc Dang along with other well-known FOSS luminaries; Stephen Jacobs, Cat Allman and Jonathan Fink. This panel, “The Culture of Open Source Between Institutions” was chaired by OSI Staffer, Richard Littauer.

 

Josh also visited DC Python’s main monthly meet-up on February 27 and delivered a talk titled, “About the Open Source Initiative” where he talked about our organizational plans and goals for the next year or two.

 

FOSDEM VIRTUAL

 

In the Legal & Policy room, Hong Phuc Dang (Board Vice-President) and Deb Nicholson (our General Manager) talked about why FOSS is so US-centric, why it shouldn't be and what we can do about it. Their talk Open Source Culture is Very US-Centric, But It Shouldn't Be: How Can We Make FOSS Truly Global? is up now. 

 

Deb also presented in the Community Devroom about triaging your workflow so that you get the important things done and skip the rest. Check out, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Doing Less."

 

Our Board member Italo Vignoli is spoke twice in the LibreOffice room on LibreOffice’s history, LibreOffice Technology From a desktop product to a platform for personal productivity and how to get the most out of LibreOffice’s native document format, ODF for Interoperability: Tips and Tricks to Tackle the Most Common Issues.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Big Gains for Open Aerospace: Interview with Open Research Institute

Tue, 2021-03-02 14:26

The Open Research Institute (ORI) is an OSI Affiliate project that works to facilitate worldwide collaboration in the development of technology. The past year has been a particularly exciting one -- achieving some groundbreaking wins for open source in aerospace. ORI’s co-founder and CEO, Michelle Thompson took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about their recent regulatory initiatives.  

 

DN: Can you tell us a little bit about the Open Research Institute's history and mission?

 

MT: Open Research Institute's mission is to provide a friendly, safe, and accessible place to do open source research and development for amateur radio and beyond. We have been fully operational since March 2019 and have contributed technical and regulatory work central to the mission of the international amateur radio service. This work is useful outside of the amateur community because it allows a wide variety of organizations to use open source communications technology where they would otherwise have to reinvent a wheel, or restrict the work to US persons only. 

 

DN: It was a big year for ORI, with the determination that "Open Source Satellite Work" is free of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR.) What prompted ORI to draft a commodity jurisdiction request?

 

MT: We were able to do this work due to the generous support of YASME Foundation, ARRL Foundation, and ARDC Foundation. Without their generous financial support and guidance, the technical and regulatory victories over the past 18 months would simply not have happened. 

 

The problem of how to deal with ITAR has been a decades-long challenge for the Amateur Radio Satellite Service. Complying with the proprietary/commercial rules within the ITAR framework is incredibly expensive. Getting the regulations wrong exposes generous volunteers to an unacceptable level of risk. However, using the proprietary/commercial rules has been the default approach for the Amateur Radio Satellite Service in the US since the 1980s. Proprietary and commercial approaches are not a good fit and have delayed, chilled, and prevented innovation and engineering development. International collaboration with amateurs in other countries has been almost entirely prevented. 

 

There is a much better approach that has been available to us all along within the regulatory framework. ITAR, and EAR, the companion rules from the US Department of Commerce, both have an alternate set of rules for open source and public domain work. Why not take full advantage of those? After many years of attempting to get amateur radio technical organizations in the United States to use the public domain carve-outs, it became clear that a definitive ruling was necessary. This ruling, or Final Determination, was achieved in late summer 2020. Open source satellite work has been determined to be free of ITAR. The second part of the regulatory process, which sought a similar ruling for EAR, succeeded on January 28th. An Advisory Opinion Letter process, to tie both of these findings together, is underway now. 

 

The goal of all of this work is to reduce risk to open source volunteers that want to work on satellites for educational, experimental, and public service purposes. The hardest part was the CJ Request to the US State Department, to address ITAR. That completed step was substantial forward progress for open source volunteers and activists. The determination has positive and enduring implications outside of the amateur radio projects that it primarily benefits.

 

DN: That seems like fun news for anyone who's kind of a satellite geek, but what does it mean for the aerospace industry?

 

MT: It means that there is a particular and significant regulatory ruling that allows the use of open source technology in aerospace. Companies are more free to use and contribute to open source satellite work. This means that companies can use open source technology in places where they really don't want to "reinvent the wheel". They can spend more time on things that truly differentiate their business. This saves money and increases the value of their engineering dollars. We see a huge positive benefit in computer networking by the use of open source technology. That same benefit can be had in aerospace by adopting open source work that benefits everyone, provides superior interoperability, and is publicly validated and verified.  

 

DN: That sounds like good news for open standards too. How collaborative would you say the aerospace industry is?

 

MT: There are parts of the aerospace world where collaboration is absolutely necessary. Human spaceflight, where the safety of the people on missions is paramount, requires all organizations involved to comply with rigorous testing and exacting standards. Other parts of the aerospace world are not collaborative in any way. Designs are secret and information is not shared. For business reasons, a company should use open source technology where it helps increase safety, interoperability, and does not threaten their core business. Why spend time re-doing a design that exists as an open source implementation? Especially when those designs have significant investment, are validated, and in many cases have substantial flight heritage. 

 

DN: What comes next and how can folks help ORI in that work?

 

MT: Donations of time, talent, and treasure are gratefully appreciated. We welcome anyone that wants to contribute to open source amateur radio research and development. You do not have to be an expert - you just have to be willing to become more of one along the way! If you have a project that needs a non-profit home, we want to talk with you. If you are an individual and you are interested in working on things like Low Density Parity Check forward error correction, or an open source implementation of DVB-S2/X, then we have openings right now in those areas. If you are looking to expand and enhance the wonderful open source polyphase filter bank work by Theseus Cores, then we are looking for contributors. Want to work on an open source amateur radio project a bit closer to home on Earth? We sponsor and support the M17 Project and they will enthusiastically welcome your time and energy. 

 

We support and publish music and are actively recruiting for radio user experience and user interface designs. This is often considered nontechnical work, but it is the heart of any communications project. Our goals are accessibility and ease of use. This has to be designed in from the beginning and cannot be an afterthought. 

 

High-tech digital communications can be intimidating. The mathematics and techniques are often complex. However, they are not impossible for ordinary people to understand and appreciate. Open source is playing a critical role here, especially in the area of demystifying and opening up communications technologies that have traditionally been unavailable to the general public, or presented as impossibly difficult to understand.

 

We spend a lot of time taking complex topics and breaking them down in new ways that make them relatable to those curious about the technology. This is fully in the traditional spirit of Amateur Radio in the US. The social and economic benefits of having a better trained population, more confident about their ability to understand and use digital wireless communications, are clear. This opportunity, to experiment and advance communications technology independent of commercial concerns, is one reason why the amateur radio service has been of such immense value.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Approved: Four New Open Source Licenses

Mon, 2021-03-01 11:36

As the steward of the Open Source Defintion, the Open Source Initiative has been designating licenses as "open source" for over 20 years. These licenses are the foundation of the open source software ecosystem, ensuring that everyone can use, improve, and share software. When a license is approved, it is because the OSI believes that the license fosters collaboration and sharing for the benefit of everyone who participates in the ecosystem.

The world has changed over the past 20 years, with software now used in new and even unimaginable ways. The OSI has seen that the familiar open source licenses are not always well-suited for these new situations. But license stewards have stepped up, submitting several new licenses for more expansive uses. The OSI was challenged to evaluate whether these new concepts in licensing would continue to advance sharing and collaboration and merit being referred to as "open source" licenses, ultimately approving some new special purpose licenses.

Four new licenses

First is the Cryptographic Autonomy License. This license is designed for distributed cryptographic applications. The challenge of this use case was that the existing open source licenses wouldn't assure openness because it would be possible for one peer to impair the functioning of the network if there was no obligation to also share data with the other peers. So, in addition to being a strong copyleft license, the CAL also includes an obligation to provide third parties the permissions and materials needed to independently use and modify the software without that third party having a loss of data or capability.

As more and more uses arise for peer-to-peer sharing using a cryptographic structure, it wouldn't be surprising if more developers found themselves in need of a legal tool like the CAL. The community on License-Discuss and License-Review, OSI's two mailing lists where proposed new open source licenses are discussed, asked many questions about this license. We hope that the resulting license is clear and easy to understand and that other open source practitioners will find it useful.

Next, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, submitted the CERN Open Hardware Licence (OHL) family of licenses for consideration. All three of its licenses are primarily intended for open hardware, a field of open access that is similar to open source software but with its own challenges and nuances. The line between hardware and software has blurred considerably, so applying separate hardware and software licenses has become more and more difficult. CERN undertook crafting a license that would ensure freedom for both hardware and software.

The OSI probably would not have considered adding an open hardware license to its list of open source licenses back when it started, but the world has changed. So while the wording in the CERN licenses encompasses hardware concepts, it also meets all the qualifications to be approved by the OSI as an open source software license.

The suite of CERN Open Hardware licenses includes a permissive license, a weak reciprocal license, and a strong reciprocal license. Most recently, the license has been adopted by an international research project that is building simple, easily replicable ventilators to use with COVID-19 patients.

Learn more

The CAL and CERN OHL licenses are special-purpose, and the OSI does not recommend their use outside the fields for which they were designed. But the OSI is eager to see whether these licenses will work as intended, fostering robust open ecosystems in these newer computing arenas.

More information on the license approval process.

Categories: FLOSS Research

New Affiliate Member Joins OSI: The TeX Users Group

Fri, 2021-02-26 10:54
The TeX Users Group (TUG) is new to the OSI Affiliate program, but not new to the world. It's a membership-based not-for-profit that was founded in 1980 to encourage and expand the use of TeX, LaTeX, Metafont and related systems. TUG fosters innovation while maintaining the usability of these systems. TUG also supports users by hosting an annual event, maintaining a list of active local TeX user groups and publishing a regular journal called TUGboat three times a year.    The OSI loves to let folks know about open source tools that they could be using like the TeX, LaTeX and Metafont systems for preparing documents. TUG is for anyone who uses the TeX typesetting system created by Donald Knuth and/or is interested in typography and font design. If you want to install TeX on your computer, please consult the resources mentioned on the TUG home page.   "The TeX Users Group (TUG) is happy to join the OSI as an Affiliate Member. Having supported the open source TeX typesetting system since its founding in 1980, TUG has been helping over the past 40+ years to make open source an integral part of the typesetting world." says Norbert Preining, a leading TeX developer and TUG Board member.   OSI Board President, Josh Simmons, adds, "The work being done to educate users and support TeX, LaTeX and Metafont proves that you can make things look great with open source tools. We're proud to welcome this critical and robust organization into our Affiliate Program!"   Interesting in having your open source organization join the OSI Affiliate Program? We'd love to hear from you!   
Categories: FLOSS Research

Modernizing Our Mission Statement

Tue, 2021-02-09 11:20
We have reworked our mission statement. First of all, our positions have not changed but the activities that we focus on going forward will continue to extend beyond license approval. We remain stewards of the Open Source Definition (aka OSD) but we will also be looking for other ways to support, grow and maintain the open source ecosystem.   Our old mission statement was pretty wordy and didn't succinctly encompass all the work that we do anymore. The OSI finds itself in a very different place than we were when we started. Open source software is everywhere now and the tech landscape has changed quite a bit. The needs of the open source community are more varied and little more complicated than they were in 1998. We aim to meet the needs of a larger, more global community and that means declaring our intent to embrace change and update our tactics.    NEW: As steward of the OSD, we set the foundation for the open source software ecosystem.   OLD: We are the stewards of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant.   This change is part of a year-long strategic planning process where we are looking ahead to what we can accomplish in the future. With this new, tidier mission statement as a rudder, we'll be exploring new tactics, modernizing our outreach and assessing what processes and infrastructure we'll need to accelerate the next 20 years of open source. We hope you like our new, clearer mission statement and we welcome your voice and support in the work to make it a reality. 
Categories: FLOSS Research

The Evolution of OSI as a Workplace

Thu, 2021-02-04 14:17
Part of our big growth year at OSI has been on the back end. One piece of that is thinking about our organization as a workplace and what it's like to work here.  We want to be a positive and healthy place to work. A place where folks can succeed without burning out, especially since we hope the next few years are likely to see us transitioning from one full-time person to two or even three full-time staffers.    The OSI Board has been shedding its involvement in day-to-day activities and becoming more of a visioning board. Non-profit organizations need to be able to respond quickly to new opportunities and to occasionally put out fires, which doesn't work so well if minor tasks must always be referred back up to a volunteer board, all of whom have many, many other responsibilities. So over the last year, we have been laying the groundwork for an efficient staff-driven organization that is empowered to do whatever needs doing in their day-to-day work. The Board's job is to collaborate on the vision, act as a resource for staff and as ambassadors to the wider community.    Our first and foundational move in this direction is working out staff policies. We had previously been doing a sort of "take what you need" policy for time off. This can be ok for the right single staffer, but crumbles once you have multiple people. "What you need" won't match "what a co-worker needs" and without clear expectations, many workplaces with these kinds of policies fall into a "you better *really* need it or you better be here." This is not the hallmark of healthy, sustainable workplace. So, we've instituted four weeks of PTO, fourteen holidays and the idea of "comp time" where when you work a full or partial day on a weekend, you take some time off in the next week or so, to compensate (hence the name.)  We're also writing up an employee handbook and working on other internal documentation for employees.   OSI is still a bit small to set up a healthcare plan -- just one full-time employee -- but we will be offering our new Executive Director a generous stipend to obtain medical insurance for themsleves. By the time we are ready to hire a second and third full time person, we plan to be able to offer a health care plan instead of a stipend. (Assuming the US has not moved to single-payer by then... )   We have also made the decision to pay our new Executive Director competitively (starting at $150K/year) and to tell people what we're offering. It isn't fair to applicants when potential employers ask for "salary requirements" or keep the salary range a secret until the end of the process. These kinds of tactics end up exploiting people from disadvantaged groups who possibly haven't ever really been paid what they're worth. OSI believes in transparency for computer users and we've decided to treat people in the community who are interested in working with us with the same respect.   Finally, our board and the wider community are aligned in our feeling that diversity is a strength as we look to shaping the next phase of open source development. OSI's board is ready to spend more time or more money to do things the right way, whether that means working with employees to be flexible or taking the time to do events in a way that is truly welcoming and accessible to all participants. We enthusiastically welcome members of historically under-represented groups to apply for this role. If all of that sounds good to you and you're in the market for an Executive Director role, head over here and apply by February 12th, 2021
Categories: FLOSS Research

OSI and Friends at Virtual FOSDEM

Mon, 2021-02-01 11:56
FOSDEM is a long running free and open source community event that has moved online for its 21st year. This year's event will be a little different, but the silver lining is that you have the option to particpate at home, without any travel. This year's talks are all pre-recorded, and the speakers will be online to answer questions right after the intitial broadcast. If you want to be part of the live conversation, you'll have to join the conference in real time.    All times below are in Brussels local time, aka GMT +1    On Saturday at 15:00, Deb Nicholson (our General Manager) and Hong Phuc Dang (our Board Vice-chair) will be presenting a talk an why FOSS is so US-centric, why it shouldn't be and what we can do about it. "Open Source Culture is Very US-Centric, But It Shouldn't Be: How Can We Make FOSS Truly Global?"   On Sunday at 12:30, Deb is giving another talk on triaging your work flow so that you get the important things done and skip the rest. Check out, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Doing Less."   Our Board member Italo Vignoli is speaking twice in the LibreOffice room on Sunday, at 10:00, "LibreOffice Technology: From a desktop product to a platform for personal productivity" and again at 16:30 "ODF for Interoperability: Tips and Tricks to Tackle the Most Common Issues."   Jim Hall, who is teaching an Open Source Technology Management class as part of our collaboration with Brandeis is also giving a fun talk in the Retrocomputing Devroom, "Working on DOS in 2021: We're getting closer to FreeDOS 1.3"   Finally, many of our Affiliates have stands in this year's virtual FOSDEM Expo, including Debian, Eclipse Foundation, FOSSASIA, Free BSD, LibreOffice and the Maria DB Foundation. In both Brussels and the US (where the OSI is based) it's probably going to be a cold weekend, so why not spend it indoors, virtually visiting with your open source pals?   
Categories: FLOSS Research

The SSPL is Not an Open Source License

Tue, 2021-01-19 13:41

We’ve seen that several companies have abandoned their original dedication to the open source community by switching their core products from an open source license, one approved by the Open Source Initiative, to a “fauxpen” source license. The hallmark of a fauxpen source license is that those who made the switch claim that their product continues to remain “open” under the new license, but the new license actually has taken away user rights.

 

The license du jour is the Server Side Public License. This license was submitted to the Open Source Initiative for approval but later withdrawn by the license steward when it became clear that the license would not be approved.

 

Open source licenses are the foundation for the open source software ecosystem, a system that fosters and facilitates the collaborative development of software. Fauxpen source licenses allow a user to view the source code but do not allow other highly important rights protected by the Open Source Definition, such as the right to make use of the program for any field of endeavor. By design, and as explained by the most recent adopter, Elastic, in a post it unironically titled “Doubling Down on Open,” Elastic says that it now can “restrict cloud service providers from offering our software as a service” in violation of OSD6. Elastic didn’t double down, it threw its cards in.

 

And the software commons are now poorer for it. The Elastic projects were offered under the Apache license. Outside contributors donated time and energy with the understanding that their work was going towards the greater good, the public software commons. Now, instead, their contributions are embedded in a proprietary product. If they want to enjoy the fruits of their own and their co-contributors’ labor, they have to agree to a proprietary license or fork.

 

This is not to say that Elastic, or any company, shouldn’t adopt whatever license is appropriate for its own business needs. That may be a proprietary license, whether closed source or with source available. The Open Source Initiative strongly believes that the open source development model is the better way to develop software and results in a superior product. But we also recognize that it is not the right choice for everyone in all cases. A company may find that its business needs and direction have changed over time, such that the original license choice is interfering with their business model. A switch may be the right choice. 

 

But Elastic’s relicensing is not evidence of any failure of the open source licensing model or a gap in open source licenses. It is simply that Elastic’s current business model is inconsistent with what open source licenses are designed to do. Its current business desires are what proprietary licenses (which includes source available) are designed for.

 

What a company may not do is claim or imply that software under a license that has not been approved by the Open Source Initiative, much less a license that does not meet the Open Source Definition, is open source software. It’s deception, plain and simple, to claim that the software has all the benefits and promises of open source when it does not.

Categories: FLOSS Research

LCA: Catch Talks by OSI Staff and Community

Fri, 2021-01-15 16:48
Linux.conf.au (aka LCA) is a lovely community conference based in Australasia that will be entering its 22nd year in 2021. The volunteer-run event is known for getting deeply technical on topics varying from the inner workings of the Linux kernel to the inner workings of dealing with communities. This year's event takes place on January 23rd - 25th and is accessible is digital and accessible to everyone, whether you live "down under" or not.   Our General Manager, Deb Nicholson will be presenting on how to build and maintain kinder, gentler and more sustainable open source communities in her talk, "Move Slow and Try Not to Break Each Other."  on Sunday at 11:40am.   Neil McGovern, the Executive Director of GNOME (an OSI Affiliate member) will be talking about GNOME's game-changing 2020 patent settlement, which we spoke about last year, "Celebrating GNOME's Patent Settlement. His talk "Patently Obvious - The year that lawyers came to FOSS" goes into all the details and will be streamed on Monday at 4:40pm.    Another Executive Director at another one of our fine affiliated projects, Software Freedom Conservancy, will also be presenting. Karen Sandler will be looking back at "Ten Years of Outreachy!" a Conservancy project dedicated to provided paid internships for folks form under-represented groups to work on FOSS. Her talk is on Sunday at 10:45am.   And finally, OSI Board alumni Molly de Blanc will be talking about her academic work in her presentation on technology and ethics, "Introduction to Ethics from an Ethicist-in-Training." Her talk is on Monday at 10:45am.   Please note: the conference will be run in the Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT - UTC+11) timezone.
Categories: FLOSS Research

Facebook’s Visdom Project is now Open Source and Transitioned to OSI Affiliate FOSSASIA

Wed, 2021-01-06 11:58

OSI Affiliate FOSSASIA welcomes the Visdom data visualization project. The project has been developed at Facebook AI Research since 2017. As part of the transition from Facebook to FOSSASIA Visdom has been relicensed under an OSI approved license - the Apache License 2.0 as fully Open Source. This is a fantastic win for the FOSS community. Visdom is now available on the FOSSASIA GitHub.

Visdom is a flexible tool for creating, organizing, and sharing visualizations of live, rich data. It aims to facilitate visualization of (remote) data with an emphasis on supporting scientific experimentation. It supports PyTorch and Numpy. The project was created by Allan Jabri and Laurens van der Maaten at Facebook, and further developed under the leadership of Jack Urbanek. To date, 90 developers from around the world have contributed to the project with over 3000 projects depending on Visdom. 

Hong Phuc Dang, OSI vice president and FOSSASIA founder says: 

I am very happy about Facebook’s decision to license Visdom as Open Source and to transition it to FOSSASIA. We will continue the development of Visdom in cooperation with the developer and user community. We already discussed lots of ideas to move forward on an exciting roadmap with the core team and adding it to FOSSASIA’s Pocket Science Lab applications. We are looking forward to the input and involvement of the community to bring the project to the next level.

Special thanks to the Visdom development team and Joe Spisak whose role was essential in making this transition happen as well as to Mario Behling for leading the transition team at FOSSASIA.

More details about the next steps of the project are available on FOSSASIA’s blog here.

Categories: FLOSS Research