[Viscom-dev] Re: [52N Security] 52°North posts new FAQs!

Arnulf Christl arnulf.christl at wheregroup.com
Fri Mar 30 05:37:40 EDT 2007

On Thu, March 29, 2007 11:48, Ann Hitchcock wrote:
> Sorry for crosspostings.
> 52°North's new FAQs are now posted! Please see:
> http://52north.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=47&Itemid=70.
> best regards,
> Ann

Hi Ann,
I wondered whether to forward this mail and the link that you sent to
OSGeo Discuss to keep people up to date with repsect to 52N's activities
but maybe we should first continue this discussion in a smaller circle
until we have sorted out some of the issues. Please bear with me this is
nothing personal but I need somebody to talk to and now that you have sent
this mail I can grab the thread and go ahead.

Hi 52N,
I have some issues with how you use the terms "Open Source" and
"Commercial". The way you are using them conveys the connotation that the
GNU GPL cannot be used commercially and that "commercial users" (whatever
that may be) "must" use 52N services and related licenses to make good use
of the software. If I may cite from the GNU page:

Mind me, all of this is *not* trivial. Just like anything else, it takes
time to digest the idea and wrap your business model around it. Here is
more food for thought:

In the end it means that neither the Free Software concept nor the GNU GPL
license are anti-commercial so that your wording is misleading. As a
leading group of Open Source software projects and thus a prime source of
advocacy it would suit you well to have this issue corrected on the more
prominent of your web pages.

The word "...published solely under the GNU..." suggests "exclusively".
This implies that there is not other license involved. Don't get me wrong,
there is nothing wrong with having a dual license, but then please do not
emphasize that it is "solely" published under the GNU GPL. This kind of
wording is only good to raise the suspicion of Free Software advocates
(one of my less satisfying roles) and confuses the common user. To prevent
both from happening is part of OSGeo's integrative aims and awarness
building mission.

One last thing (that blends into commercial activities with respect to the
German FOSSGIS market) is the wording with respect to 52N. You keep on
talking of an "Open Source Initiative" but instead it is a perfectly
commercial undertaking of the German legal form GmbH (Gesellschaft mit
begrenzter Haftung). And you are talking of "products" instead of
"software projets". This mixing of Open Source projects with the
corresponding governance and openness do not go together well with the
interests of a commercial undertaking. Again, please do not get me wrong,
as I already said it is perfectly legal and morally and ethically correct
to earn money using Open Source and prociding services around it but it is
not OK to have commercial interests rule the governance of Open Source

This is one of the reasons why for example Autodesk shed their license
claims to OSGeo which is not a commercial undertaking but a non-profit
organization. As an aside - this is not really a problem for the Open
Source comunity but it will damage the perception of the software projects
contained within 52N. If they are perceived as being controlled by
commercial interests they will attract far less competent people than if
they were really Free and Open and legally unencumbered.

If you are interested in continuing this discussion - hopefuly without
raising yet another flame - I would be happy to follow up on any ideas
that you might have on this list or elsewhere.

As an aside to VisCom and WebCom: I am misusing this list for advocacy and
awareness building because afaik we do not have such place within OSGeo
yet. It might be a good idea to consider this when merging Web and Vis to
ComCom - is this still the place to do things like this or where should
that happen?

Sorry for the lengthy mail, I am sure others would have needed less words...

Best regards,
Arnulf Christl.

yet another one: From an Open and Free perspective Liberty Alliance is to
be eyed very critically, please refer to http://openliberty.org/ to note
the difference in aims and mission. One is highly (if not only)
commercially interestd, the other is about protecting privacy and the
people. Fine distinctions but they show.

> --
> Dipl.-Geogr. Ann Hitchcock
> 52°North Initiative for Geospatial Open Source Software GmbH
> Martin-Luther-King-Weg 24
> 48155 Münster
> Germany
> Managing Director: Dr. Andreas Wytzisk
> Amtsgericht Münster HRB 10849
> Tel: +49 (0)251 7474 520
> Fax: +49 (0)251 7474 530
> email: hitchcock at 52north.org
> http://www.52north.org
> _______________________________________________
> Security mailing list
> Security at 52north.org
> https://www.52north.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/security

Arnulf Christl

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