10 years of religion

Bruce Perens has put together a summary for the first decade of open source.  It’s a call to arms, not a news report. though that should not be a surprise.

This being a BSD-centric publication, I have to quibble: He defines open source as having started by his writing about it, 10 years ago, which seems somewhat arbitrary.  Also, he claims the GPLv3 is the ‘strongest’ open source license possible on the basis that people have been looking at it.  I’d argue that the BSD license has already made it through court.   The biggest problem these days appears to be patent law, which is certainly vulnerable to challenge.  (Via OnLAMP)

3 Replies to “10 years of religion”

  1. I’m not particularly an admirer of Bruce Perens but I have to quibble with your quibble. He’s not saying open source started 10 years ago (after all, the GNU project started in 1984). He’s saying the term “open source” was first used (by him and Eric Raymond) 10 years ago, as a deliberate marketing strategy for companies scared by “free software”. If you know prior use of the term, perhaps you can point it out.

    And the BSD court case was not about the validity of the licence. It was about the right of BSDI and Berkeley to distribute that code under that licence (USL claimed copyright over some of it). Certainly enough lawyers have looked at the BSD licence that it should be legally safe if you have full rights to the code (including patent rights). Perens is talking specifically of the patent threat, and how GPL3 can defend you against patent lawsuits instigated by users of your software (it cannot defend you against lawsuits from third parties). I don’t think the BSD licence offers any such protection, and it remains to be seen how well GPL3 does that job in practice.

  2. Yeah, I realized halfway through typing it that my elaborate clever takedown of his arguments wasn’t as thorough as I thought.

    Arguing about software licenses is a peculiar type of Internet Argument that taxes people’s patience, anyway, so it’s probably better that way.

  3. I read as far as …

    “the creation of the GNU System, which, most notably when it was combined with the Linux kernel, changed the way software works forever.”

    … and then could not bring myself to read any further.

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