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  • Open Yet Closed

    In these days of code that no single mind can grasp, it's hard to see how software freedom is present when there's no realistic community access to source code.


    In the early days of Free Software, it was a safe assumption that anyone using a computer had coding skills of some sort -- even if only for shell scripts. As a consequence, many advocates of Free Software, despite a strong focus on user freedoms, had a high tolerance for software that made source available under free terms without providing binaries.

    That was considered undesirable, but as long as the source code could be used it was not disqualifying. Many other ways evolved to ensure that the software was somehow impractical to deploy without a commercial relationship with a particular vendor, even if the letter of the rules around Free Software was met.

    This tolerance for "open but closed" models continued into the new Open Source movement. As long as code was being liberated under open source licenses, many felt the greater good was being served despite obstacles erected in service of business models.

    But times have changed. Random code liberation is still desirable, but the source of the greatest value to the greatest number is the collaboration and collective innovation open source unlocks. While abstract "open" was tolerated in the 20th century, only "open for collaboration" satisfies the open source communities of the 21st century. Be it "open core", "scareware", "delayed open", "source only for clients", "patent royalties required" or one of the many other games entrepreneurs play, meeting the letter of the OSD or FSD without actually allowing collaboration is now deprecated.

    As a consequence, OSI receives more complaints from community members about "open yet closed" than any other topic. Companies of all sizes who loudly tout their love for open source yet withhold source code from non-customers generate the most enquiries of this type. When approached, OSI contacts these companies on behalf of the community but the response is always that they are "within their rights" under the relevant open source licenses and can do what they please.

    One claim that deserves to be soundly debunked is that it's OK to withhold open source code from non-customers. All open source licenses should be interpreted as requiring source to be made available to the public. OSD 2 is very clear:

    2. The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.M/small>

    Interestingly it's common that the companies involved obtained the source code they are monetising under an open source license, while they themselves own the copyrights to a tiny percentage of the code. They can be considered to have enclosed the commons, enjoying the full benefits of open source themselves -- and celebrating it -- but excluding others from collaboration on the same terms.

    Many community members would tolerate this were it not for the company claims to be strong supporters of open source. Even this behaviour might be mitigated for some with upstream code contributions. But in the absence of public code, most community members dispute something is open source, regardless of the license used. "Open yet closed" may have been tolerated twenty years ago, but today the rule is open up or shut up.

    Image credit: "OpenClosedPost.png" is a derivative of "Paris - A Bicycle against an old wall - 4292.jpg", 2008 by Jorge Royan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons and used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



  • Open Source Initiative Announces DigitalOcean Corporate Sponsorship

    Cloud services platform will provide both financial and in-kind contributions to support OSI infrastructure and new collaboration platform.

    PALO ALTO, Calif. - Nov. 8, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), dedicated to increasing the awareness and adoption of open source software, is delighted to welcome DigitalOcean as a Premium Sponsor. DigitalOcean, a cloud services platform designed for developers, will provide both financial support and hosting for several OSI community-driven services.

    A Forbes' Cloud 100 company, DigitalOcean's active engagement and investment in open source software highlights how today's most innovative and successful companies have recognized the value of, and opportunities within, open communities of collaboration. The company regularly sponsors open source related MeetUps and Hackathons—including their popular "Hacktoberfest", develops tutorials on open source technologies and techniques, maintains and contributes to a number of open source projects, and of course offers hosting to open source projects and foundations.

    "DigitalOcean's support provides a critical boost to the OSI's ongoing operations, and for the new, community-focused programs we'll be launching in 2018," says Patrick Masson, General Manager at OSI. "With the growth in open source software across all sectors, the OSI is seeing more and more requests for assistance and resources. DigitalOcean's services will provide the OSI with the dedicated infrastructure we need now to successfully extend and expand our support for the new and growing roles emerging in open source communities of practice."

    "One of our core company values is, our community is bigger than just us," says Greg Warden, VP, Engineering at DigitalOcean. "From our KVM-based hypervisors to our Go and Ruby applications running on our Kubernetes clusters, DigitalOcean is built on a foundation of open source. That's why it is so important for us to support the Open Source Initiative in its work promoting and protecting open source on behalf of the community."

    As a non-profit, community-driven organization, the OSI relies on the support of volunteers who lend their time to develop and manage internal operations and working groups; individual contributing members, whose annual dues provide critical support and votes elect the Board; Affiliate Members, composed of a who's who of open source projects and foundations, and; corporations who choose to support our mission through in-kind donations and generous financial contributions.

    About DigitalOcean

    DigitalOcean is a cloud services platform designed for developers that businesses use to run production applications at scale. It provides highly available, secure and scalable compute, storage and networking solutions that help developers build great software faster. Founded in 2012 with offices in New York and Cambridge, MA, DigitalOcean offers simple services, transparent pricing, an elegant user interface, and one of the largest libraries of open source resources available. For more information, please visit http://www.digitalocean.com or follow @digitalocean.

    About The Open Source Initiative

    Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

    Media Contact
    Italo Vignoli
    italo@opensource.org



  • Ensuring Openness Through and In Open Source Licensing

    It simply may not be clear to those encountering open source for the first time the scope of the Open Source Definition, or the standards expected by the international open source community, when OSI approved licenses are applied. We're here to help clear things up.


    Some of the largest forces in business today—consumer-facing companies like Google and Facebook, business-facing companies like Salesforce and SUSE, companies outside the tech industry such as BMW, Capital One, and Zalando, even first-gen tech corporations like Microsoft and IBM—all increasingly depend on open source software. Governments too, including the European Union, France, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many others have discovered the benefits of open source software and development models. Successful collaborative development of software and infrastructure used by these organizations is enabled by the safe space created when they use their IP in a new ways... to ensure an environment for co-creation where the four essential freedoms of software are guaranteed.

    Software distributed under an OSI Approved Open Source License offers much to businesses and governments: both as consumers and contributors. The software freedoms protected through open source licensing harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process driving economies through faster innovation, higher quality, better reliability, lower costs, and an end to vendor lock-in. The open source model also promotes increased security; because code in the public view will be exposed to extreme scrutiny, with problems found and fixed instead of kept secret until the wrong person discovers them. And last but not least, it's a way that the little guys can get together, innovate and have a good chance at beating an established participant. Participating in open source projects and communities can build open standards as actual software, rather than paper documents. It's a way for companies and individuals to collaborate around shared needs on a product that none alone could achieve or, in and of itself, does not constitute a key business differentiator.

    Governments too recognize the value of open source as both a technology solution delivering value to the public they serve, as well as an approach for development returning tax-payer investments back to the society they represent.

    A European Commission study of 2007 offered, “Open Source is key for ICT competitiveness”, yet, “Though FLOSS [Free/Libre Open Source Software] provides ample opportunities for Europe, it is threatened by increasing moves in some policy circles to support regulation that seeks to protect old business models of creative industries, making it harder to develop new ways of doing business.” [1]

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has successfully addressed copyright licensing as a concrete expression of software freedom since its founding in 1998. But open source software licenses were always intended to go beyond copyright to deliver rights permission and rights protection for developers and users in multiple IP classes, both explicitly and implicitly. OSI has never approved a license that did not include robust rights to freely make, use and sell software, as required by the OSI’s key principles.

    Open Source Includes Patents as well as Copyrights

    An open source project and participating communities of practice have always expected that, if a project is “open source”, then they will receive all necessary rights associated with former and current participants to be licensed without further action. This expectation is guaranteed in the Open Source Definition (OSD), “The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties” [2].

    The OSI has long explained that unrestricted licensing is essential to protect the software freedom inherent to open source software and the communities of practice that rely on unfettered use, modification and (re)distribution. The OSI has released multiple public comments, and recommended policy, on several issues that threaten open source software, including: open standards [3, 4], Digital Rights Management [5], FRAND [6], and software patents [7].

    The OSI and the open source community have always treated patent licensing, as a precondition of implementation of a standard, as inherent in approved open source licenses, without any need for separate license grants. Even zero-fee licensing would be problematic, as it still might require (non-monetary) permissions from patent holders before the adoption and use of software, the antithesis of open source. Patent licensing is by definition bilateral—a one-off agreement between a licensor and licensee. Open source communities are by definition multi-lateral, where a single license affords concordance to all licensees. Any approach which includes separate patent licensing for specific users would undermine the multi-participant open source model, conflict with the OSD, and thus could never be interpreted as compliant with any OSI Approved Open Source License or the label “open source software”.

    To be clear, of course, the decision to participate in an open source project is entirely voluntary. Companies may choose not to participate, and thus not to license their copyrights and patents. But if they participate in open source, then they must comply with these basic requirements for open source licensing.

    Assertion of Patents Against Open Source Software Hinders Authentic Collaboration

    Unrestricted collaboration, critical to authentic development in open source software communities, depends fundamentally on equality of participation and transparency of behavior. Organizations like Apache, OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and many others go to great lengths to ensure transparency and equality, and have rules that exclude the possibility of participation by those who attempt to breach either. Seen in the context of collaborative development and distribution, the assertion of a contributor’s patents against open source software is antithetical to open source approaches.

    As a result, open source licensing terms prevent patent aggression and disadvantage those who attempt it. Far from being a sacrifice, this use of IP is arguably the dynamo of the technology industry, allowing startups and established corporations alike to rapidly climb upon the shoulders of earlier giants and deliver innovation. Web servers, smartphones, business automation, cloud computing and the sharing economy – to name just a few examples – all arise from the use of OSI Approved Open Source Licenses and would probably never have happened without it.

    Open Source is a Defined Term

    The OSI, as the steward of the OSD, is the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. The global software development and deployment community refers to software as “open source” when it is made available with source code under an OSI-approved IP license conveying the rights necessary to use, improve and share the software in a manner a given community considers appropriate. The OSD, and the OSI’s authority in certifying licenses, are internationally recognized by open source software projects (e.g. The Apache Foundation, The Linux Foundation, The Mozilla Foundation) [8] , corporations (e.g. Adobe, Dell/EMC, Facebook, Github, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft) [9], and governments across the world [10].

    There also are practical reasons why open source software needs to comply with the OSD and OSI’s approved licenses. Historically, where organizations have attempted to label some piece of software or another “open source” without applying an OSI-Approved Open Source License, the community consistently responds [11], confronting the offending organization [12, 13], emphasizing the consensus of the community [14], and demanding a resolution until alignment with community norms is again achieved [15]. In other words, it is not good business to falsely claim open source compliance.

    All OSI-approved licenses share basic attributes defined in the OSD. In particular “mere use” is always permitted.

    Approved Licenses, the OSI’s Process

    A key goal of the OSI approval process is to allow those without access to corporate counsel to still participate confidently in open source collaborative development in service of their own use, improvement and sharing of the code. The OSI License Review Process ensures that licenses and software labeled as "open source" conforms to existing community norms and expectations. For that reason, all licenses must go through a public review process described below.

    • Ensure approved licenses conform to the Open Source Definition
    • Identify appropriate License Proliferation Category
    • Discourage vanity and duplicative Licenses
    • Ensure a thorough, transparent and timely review (e.g. within 60 days)

    OSI’s “crystallisation of consensus” process for license review is overwhelmingly accepted in the community, serving as a nexus of trust and providing permission in advance for innovation. A license thus only becomes "approved" when open public review has reached consensus and the OSI Board has confirmed that consensus.

    Individuals, corporations and SDOs may not assert or imply OSI Approved Open Source License status outside this process.

    Ready to Help

    OSI’s current and former Board has decades of experience in open source software projects and communities, the license approval process, and is aware of many modes of both success and failure related to licensing and community.

    OSI is a donation-funded break-even 501(c)(3) with limited staff and a pro bono Board. OSI is nonetheless willing to correspond with any organization on open source matters, as well as help identify independent consultants.

    To establish a corresponding relationship, please contact president@opensource.org

    References

    1. Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer. The impact of Free/Libre/Open Source Software on innovation and competitiveness of the European Union, European Commission, 2007. Web. 25 October 2017. http://flossimpact.merit.unu.edu/
    2. OSI Board of Directors. The Open Source Definition. The Open Source Initiative, 1998. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osd
    3. OSI Board of Directors. Open Standards Requirement. The Open Source Initiative, 2006. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr
    4. OSI Board of Directors. Open Standards Requirements for Software – Rationale. The Open Source Initiative, 2006. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr-rationale
    5. OSI Board of Directors. Principles of DRM Nonaggression for Open Standards. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr-drm
    6. OSI Board of Directors. FRAND and Open Standards. The Open Source Initiative, 2012. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/node/616
    7. OSI Board of Directors. Search Results. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/search/node/software%20patents
    8. OSI Board of Directors. List of OSI Affiliates. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/affiliates/list
    9. OSI Board of Directors. OSI Corporate Sponsors & Support. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/sponsors
    10. OSI Board of Directors. International Authority & Recognition. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/authority#AustralianGov
    11. OSI Board of Directors. React to React. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/node/862
    12. Mattmann, Chris A. RocksDB Integrations. The Apache Foundation, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-303?focusedCommentId=16088663
    13. Mullenweg, Matt. On React and WordPress. MA.TT, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://ma.tt/2017/09/on-react-and-wordpress/
    14. Multiple. December 2016 Archives by thread. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss/2016-December/thread.html#19600
    15. Wolff, Adam. Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js. Facebook Code, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://code.facebook.com/posts/300798627056246/relicensing-react-jest-flow-and-immutable-js/

    Image credit: "openBlur.png" is a derivative of "Yes We're Open.jpg", 2017 by Pernillan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons and used permission under CC BY-SA 4.0.



  • Open Source Initiative, and Open Source Software Movement Celebrate Twenty Years

    The Open Source Initiative will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2018. In the true open source spirit, the organization will invite everyone in the open source community to participate.


    Raleigh, NC Oct. 23, 2018 — All Things Open Conference — The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today plans for the “Open Source 20th Anniversary World Tour” to run through 2018.

    Open source software is now ubiquitous, recognized across industries as a fundamental component to infrastructure, as well as a critical factor for driving innovation. Over the past twenty years, the OSI has worked to promote and protect open source software, development, and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

    The “open source” label was created at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Mountain View, California. That same month, now almost twenty years ago, the OSI was founded as a general educational and advocacy organization to raise awareness and adoption for the superiority of an open development process.

    To recognize this point in our shared history, the remarkable success of the open source software movement, and the inspiring fellowship of developers, maintainers, businesses and communities engaged in collaborative efforts across so many technology sectors, supporting just about every company and community, the OSI, in partnership with its affiliate members and sponsors, is organizing a global celebration to take place at a variety of open source venues worldwide throughout 2018. “The OSI's twenty year anniversary is a celebration of the open source software movement itself. We hope everyone who has helped to make open source software so successful will join us in celebrating code and communities,” said Patrick Masson, General Manager at the Open Source Initiative.

    As of today, the OSI has confirmed 2018 anniversary celebrations in conjunction with the leading open source conferences, as well as standalone community-led events, these include: All Things Open, Campus Party Brasil, China Open Source Conference, FOSDEM, FOSSASIA Summit, Linux.conf.au, LinuxFest Northwest, Open Apereo, Open Camps, OpenExpo, OpenTechSummit China, OSCON, Paris Open Source Summit, and SCALE16x. In addition to official events, the OSI is also supporting volunteer organizers in hosting local, community-led celebrations in their own cities.

    “Openness and sharing of knowledge is enabling our community in Asia to learn about new technologies every day, “ said Hong Phuc Dang, FOSSASIA Founder. “It is amazing what opportunities open source is providing to so many people. We are excited to be connected with contributors around the globe and to celebrate the achievements of Open Source in the 20th Anniversary World Tour in Singapore and China.”

    Pierre Baudracco, CEO of BlueMind, president of the Paris Open Source Summit committee program added, “We are very pleased to be the first European official milestone as part of OSI’s 20th Anniversary World Tour. Paris Open Source Summit, as a major global event of the Free and Open Source sector in Europe, addressing communities, markets, societies, research, politics and more, is just a perfect meeting place to celebrate 20 years of open source, worldwide openness and collaborative contributions.”

    About The Open Source Initiative
    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community. One of the most important activities for the organization is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open source cooperation. For more information about the OSI, see https://opensource.org.

    Contact
    Italo Vignoli
    Chair, OSI Communications Committee
    italo@opensource.org



  • Open Source Initiative Welcomes Cumulus Networks As Premium Sponsor

    Cumulus Networks' contributions support open source projects, developer communities, and now as an OSI Premium Sponsor, advocacy.

    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the internationally recognized home of the open source software movement working to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today the generous sponsorship of Cumulus Networks. Cumulus joins OSI's growing community of corporations that recognize the importance of not only investing in open source software projects and development, but also building a diverse ecosystem that promotes collaboration, enables innovation, and ensures quality.

    Cumulus Networks has a strong tradition of internally-driven development of original open source software, including most notably, contributions to the Linux kernel that complete the data center feature set for Linux such as Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF), MPLS, MLAG infrastructure, multicast routing features, etc. Cumulus' most recent open source effort is FRRouting, co-developed by a group of contributing companies in the open networking space, to enhance routing protocols. Cumulus Networks has also been a key driving member of the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) with contributions to the Open Compute Project, Prescriptive Topology Manager--which simplifies the deployment of large L3 networks--and ifupdown2, a rewrite of Debian's tool for configuring networks that greatly simplifies large, complicated networking configurations.

    In addition to technical and code contributions, Cumulus has also invested in the development of educational and training programs to help open source developers and users become active contributors with a wide range of freely available resources. "We're very excited by Cumulus' sponsorship," said Patrick Masson, General Manager of the OSI. "Of course we're very grateful for their generous financial support, but also, as part of the sponsorship, we'll also be working with the Cumulus team to create and distribute professional development and training resources that will help the entire open source community learn new technologies, develop skills and more deeply engage with projects."

    "Open source is one Cumulus Networks' core principles, and we have a strong background at the company of both developing original open source software and contributing to projects," said Shrijeet Mukherjee, VP of Engineering of Cumulus Networks. "We're thrilled to sponsor The Open Source Initiative and contribute to an organization that is so positively impacting the community by raising awareness and adoption of open source."

    Contributions like those from Cumulus, allow the OSI to maintain its internationally recognized status as a nexus of trust with a mandate to protect and promote open source. The OSI engages with open source developers, communities of practice, as well as the public and private sectors around the world, furthering open source technologies, licenses, and models of development that can provide economic and strategic advantages.

    About Cumulus Networks
    Cumulus Networks (https://www.cumulusnetworks.com) is leading the transformation of bringing web-scale networking to enterprise cloud. As the only systems solution that fully unlocks the vertical network stacks of the modern data center, Cumulus Linux allows companies of all sizes to affordably build and efficiently operate their networks just like the world's largest data centers. By allowing operators to use standard hardware components, Cumulus Networks offers unprecedented operational speed and agility, at the industry's most competitive cost. Cumulus Networks has received venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Peter Wagner and four of the original VMware founders.

    About The Open Source Initiative
    Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about OSI sponsorship, see https://opensource.org/sponsors.



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