Open source, closed source, and the value of code

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Mon Feb 29 17:09:14 EST 2016


Robert, I appreciate your thorough thoughts on this.  You covered a lot 
of ground, and you seem to have your mind well made up on open source 
license options so I won't try to convince you of anything here, just 
providing some links and background info for others who may share 
questions along these lines:


 > First : no. The allegation about hypercard forcing the open source
 > path on all usage is not true.

I don't think anyone was claiming that.  HyperCard was very clearly 
released under proprietary license with specific terms and conditions.

Bill Atkinson's commented I quoted seemed more to reflect a good 
appreciate for open process and for sharing in general, but in that 
video he expressed so opinions about GPL or any other open source 
license specifically.


 > What I questionned is that we're going to be missing an intermediate
 > tool/license that would allow somebody to close SOME of his work at a
 > reasonable cost for a hobbyist. Just as was originally designed in
 > Hypercard.

Originally HyperCard was given away for free with every Mac.

Indeed, once it became a product under Claris it proved difficult for it 
to sustain itself economically.

FWIW, LC has experimented with a wide range of price points over the 
years, including many that match price points suggested in recent 
related threads here.  If they had produced the sort of results hoped 
for we wouldn't be having this conversation today.



 > And on a deeper level, please, do pay attention that it is our whole
 > copyright system which is being thus challenged.
 > -- would you find it "ok" that everything you write with your open
 > sourced
 > word processor be absolutely open sourced? Whatever you write? even
 > if it is your next brilliant patent?
 > -- same question for the various open sourced "tools" that allow to
 > edit pictures, drawings, videos and so on.

According to the authors of the GPL, copyright of data output by a 
program is different and separate from copyright of code:
<http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#GPLOutput>



 > The fuss about is that in the present state of the license applicable
 > to open sourced livecode, whatever you "write" with live code, if
 > "given" "shared" to anybody else, then becomes open sourced.

That is a distinguishing feature of the GPL and other related licenses. 
  And as Matt pointed out earlier this morning, there are many other 
open source licenses as well, such as the MIT/X11 license he's using, 
which differ in terms of downstream responsibilities.

Matt chose to obtain an Indy license so he can use MIT/X11 for the work 
he produces from it.

Choosing the GPL-governed Community Edition means choosing GPL.

We have many options to choose from, so only those who choose the 
GPL-governed edition are obliged to the terms they've chosen.



 > Actually it would be interesting to precise what rights get open
 > sourced in a stack :
 > -- do all the media incorporated in a stack become open sourced when
 > shared?
 > -- what about the copyright on the layout of the application ?
 > -- what about the writing of the documentation included?
 > -- what about the logo of the company/individual  included?
 > -- what about the trade marks eventually?

Trademarks are very different from copyright.  They require separate 
filing, and have different enforcement requirements as well.

Regarding copyright of media incidental to a work, for the distinction 
between code and output see the GPL FAQ link above.


 > What happens if you incoportate in a stack a specific copyright
 > protection for some elements.
 > There would be a kind of conflict there.

If those elements are code there may be a conflict, or not, if the 
license of those elements allows it and is compatible with the GPL.

There are several questions in the FAQ I linked to above which cover a 
wide range of circumstances relating to such circumstances.


 > And if you think these question over copyrights and so on are just
 > a do about nothing, for most of us it is, clearly, but for Disney who
 > managed to extend the copyright period by another 25 years and more
 > in effect it is vital.

It is true that the US government has allowed a single corporate to 
revise its copyright law.  Whether allowing such a practice is useful 
for the general public has been the subject of much debate both in the 
US and abroad, and is - thankfully - beyond the scope of this list. :)


 > A largest part of our economy will now more and more rely on these
 > rights.

Yes, the "founding fathers" of the United States drafted the 
Constitution with explicit provisions for providing for protection of 
copyrights because they believed intellectual property was valuable.

The Berne Convention which makes the GPL and all other distribution 
agreements possible has been signed by more than two-thirds of the 
world's nations.

Protecting copyright is generally considered valuable so that creators 
of original works have the right to choose the terms of the distribution 
of those works.  Whether they choose an open source license or a 
proprietary one is up to them.


 > Last : are there other computer programming languages that are open
 > sourced and that impose on all programs written with it to be open
 > sourced same way??

Using the TIOBE index ( <http://www.tiobe.com/tiobe_index>) as a guide, 
we can look at several there:

Java: mixed somewhat like LC, with a proprietary version and a
     GPL-governed OpenJDK.

C, C++: my understanding is these are open specifications; tools
     implementing those specifications vary, but among the most
     popular compilers is GCC, the Gnu C Compiler from the same
     folks who wrote the GPL.

Python, PHP:  both open source, but under their own unique terms.
     Their licenses are generally considered more "permissive" than
     GPL in that they have no "copyleft" provisions (downstream
     requirements for adhering to the same level of openness they
     offer), but it's worth noting that the Wordpress, Drupal, and
     Joomla projects are among the world's most popular systems
     built on PHP and all three explicitly define all themes,
     modules, and other add-ons as "derivative works" per the GPL
     and require GPL for such works:
     <https://www.drupal.org/about/licensing>

VB.net: Historically proprietary, with a subset recently release as
     open source under MIT license.

Delphi: Proprietary, though a GPL-governed variant is available
     through the Lazarus project.

Ruby:  Open source under BDSL

Swift: Mostly open source now (language only, I don't believe any of
     the Cocoa framework needed for effective use of it on iOS is
     included in that) under Apache v2 license.

R:  Dual-licensed under MIT or GPLv2

Groovy: Like most projects stewarded under Apache, uses Apache v2

Scratch: dual-licensed under MIT or GPLv2.

There are a lot more listed there, too many to cover here but each has 
its own license info that can be found if interested.

For a broad view of FOSS license adoption this chart has a breakdown 
showing license popularity by project count:
<http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2014/11/14/open-source-licenses/>

While MIT and Apache are growing in popularity, GPL's family of licenses 
(v2, v3, AGPL and LGPL) continue to dominate.

-- 
  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  ____________________________________________________________________
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com                http://www.FourthWorld.com





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