Sun’s chief open source officer, Simon Phipps, has written and interesting post today that relates to a couple of posts I’ve written about recently, particularly The impact of licensing choice and Is FOSS heading for an identity crisis?
In Software Freedom: More than Copyright Simon argues that “certain recent events between the open and proprietary software worlds mean that it’s time for software freedom fighters to get together and work on these things”.
By these things he means the protection of open source ideals through the application of new definitions related to intellectual property. Simon notes that the Open Source definition does not actually define what does or does not constitute ‘open source’, but, as he puts it, “it defines a subset of the requirements that protect software freedom, in this case the copyright license.”
Simon goes on to suggest that perhaps the OSD would be better renamed the Open Source Copyright Definition and bolstered by the creation of Open Source Patent Definition and an Open Source Trademark Definition which would act to define how open source is protected and promoted by the use of patent and trademark policies.
Simon was responding to a recent post by Michael Tiemann in which he bemoaned the process regarding the proposed ISO approval of OOXML. Tiemann’s post includes the insightful comment: “I have become increasingly aware of a strategy that seems frequently employed by the powerful: when caught bending the rules, bend them to breaking, and when breaking the rules, break so many so comprehensively that it seems pointless and small to call any specific infraction to light.”
It is in the light of this strategy that I suggested that we might see “increased tension between a Free Software movement exhibiting a strengthened resolve to stand by its principles, and an Open Source Software movement in which individuals have to decide where they draw the line.”
It is interesting to see Simon attempting to draw that line.