Open Source Licensing Choices

InfoWorld has an interesting story on GPL’s decline (might be a strong word) in favor of some more permissive licenses, notably Apache, MIT, and BSD. I think this part hits the main deciding factor:

Originally associated with variants of Unix, these “permissive” licenses took their names from the universities at Berkeley and Massachusetts: the BSD and MIT licenses. These licenses allow you to do almost anything with the associated software, including making it closed, proprietary software to which the four freedoms no longer apply. This is also a source of controversy, as some people consider it wrong to take open source software and prevent others in the future from using, studying, modifying, and distributing it.

Many corporations out of licensing concerns forbid GPL, rational or not. In my experience if you want to keep your project open to as many enterprise and corporate uses as possible, BSD, MIT or Apache is your best bet. I don’t think many these days still forbid all open source. Some still forbid GPL. They will use GPL licensed software, just not the code.

Deciding what license you pick is an important part of any software project.

No Opera For iPhone

I’m not to thrilled to read this:

Mr. von Tetzchner said that Opera’s engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it competes with Apple’s own Safari browser.

This isn’t news, it’s been known for a while. I’m honestly wondering why Opera invested the development time with this in mind.

Apple’s going to learn the hard way that if it doesn’t drop this clause it’s going to be subject to Android’s wrath. Android is going to take some time to gather steam (I’d guess at least 18 months before it can catch up to the iPhone due to it still being pretty clunky and limited in availability) but when it does it catch up, it could be problematic.

It would be great to see a iPhone version of Fennec, but until Apple wises up, it’s not going to happen.

I predict just like Apple initially had a “no third party applications” policy, this too will change once it becomes obvious that this will end up hurting them in the long run. The question remains: how long will that take?

Apple Drops NDA

Apple today announced they are dropping the criticized NDA. This is great news, but not good enough if Apple wants to hold it’s strong position in the smart phone race. I strongly agree with Ryan Block that Apple needs to open up the app store (or just get rid of it). Jailbreaking is a pain and a risk people don’t always want to take.

It’s for Apple’s own good to open things up.

WWDC 2008 Analysis

iPhone 3G

The Presentation

As usual I keep tabs on all the major Apple events using pretty much all the top tech sites that run “live blogs” and the like. This year none failed completely though I think they all were overcome with traffic at one point resulting in a failed load attempt. Not bad. This year I threw twitter into the mix. That was pretty interesting itself. Kevin Rose pointed out a decent audio feed. I did this in the background while I worked.

One thing I did note is that the parade of iPhone Apps got pretty painful after a while. Just wanted to yell out “we get it… cool apps built quickly… move on!”. For those who were following along at home, my predictions were mostly right (yay me!).

iPhone 3G

To me, this was really what the announcement was all about, and I’ll explain why a little later. The obvious big gain is the performance of 3G. This will win over a lot of people who just couldn’t imagine paying that much and surfing the web with EDGE. Another awesome addition is GPS support. It’s notable since geolocation is the “next big thing” [I should note update GeoLocateFox… I was ahead of my time]. I suspect there may be a few other goodies under the hood of this new iPhone that have yet to be revealed due to the suspected chipset. If Apple doesn’t unleash the full power, hackers will. Rest assured.

The real big thing here is that the phone is now much cheaper with a much more reasonable amount of storage on board. $299 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 8GB model. This is substantial for a few reasons. Besides obviously saving some cash, it makes the phone suddenly a possibility for people who would have never shelled out the original sticker price.

AT&T’s pricing looks to be $30 for unlimited data. The cheapest Voice/Data combo you could do would be $69/mo. That’s $10 more than it was for the first generation. Presumably that will help curb the cost of the massive 3G upgrades they are doing and subsidizing the iPhone’s hardware costs.

iPhone Apps

Pretty impressive demos from the screenshots I’ve seen. I’m really interested in more basic stuff should I get an iPhone. SSH, FTP, Email that doesn’t suck. I’d prefer to read/write office docs, but I guess I can always use something like Google Docs, which I’m sure will support the iPhone at some point if it doesn’t already.

Rather disgusted that I haven’t seen anything really change in terms of Application distribution or licensing. Apple is still very prohibitive of what it will allow. Don’t hold your breath on Firefox or Java anytime soon.

Apple will let you distribute Apps for free (how kind of them), but you still need to pay $99 to provide a free Application:

Standard Program $99
The Standard Program is for developers who are creating free and commercial applications for iPhone and iPod touch.

How about no charge for Applications with an OSI approved license Apple? Seems fair. No charge, and you get more software to make your ecosystem look more attractive.

Strikes me as pretty lame that a developer needs to pay $99 so Apple will let others use software for free.

  1. Disable download/install functionality.
  2. Charge $99 to distribute applications, even if they are free.
  3. Profit!

MobileMe

I was wrong regarding the use of MobileMe. Sadly it still doesn’t seem to fit the bill for something worth $99. Google provides most of the functionality pretty nicely. I suspect Google Calendar will get some iPhone sync love in the near future. In my opinion would have been better to just partner with Google and offer something really awesome and let Google monetize it. I suspect they didn’t do this because of the whole Android thing.

Jailbreak

Jailbreak is far from dead. The SDK isn’t open enough to kill off Jailbreak. Expect it to live on an coincide with Apple’s efforts for some time to come.

Mac OS X 10.6

Damn you NDA… would someone start leaking the goods 😉 . There’s some basic info out there, but nothing really juicy yet.

Photo Courtesy of Apple

Public Domain vs. Open Source

Ok, I promise to slow down on the use of X vs. Y on this blog, but after this post. CNet has an interesting blog post by Stephen Shankland essentially asking is public domain software open source? A very interesting question.

This little bit of information from Richard Hipp, founder of SQLite, I found to be particularly interesting:

“…The consensus there seems to be that ‘public domain’ is valid and is a proper subset of ‘open source’–except in France and Germany where the concept of ‘public domain’ is not recognized…”

In my opinion, as long as the project stipulates that all contributions be released as public domain (defined as intellectual property not owned or controlled by anyone, and available for use by anyone for any purpose without restriction) for perpetuity, I think that in itself is an open source license. It’s also the cleanest and most easy to read.

HD Photo Now JPEG XR

Back in March I mentioned that Microsoft is trying to standardize it’s HD Photo format as the official successor to the ever so popular JPEG format. Well it’s now looking to become JPEG XR.

Suprisingly it’s still not listed on Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise where Microsoft lists things it won’t sue over. Hopefully they will update that soon. My understanding from what I’ve read is that’s the intent.

It’s a pretty interesting thing going on. Video on the web has improved by leaps and bounds over the years from a tiny grainy video object that took a decade to load, to instantly loading and still improving quality Flash / Windows Media / QuickTime. Photos on the other hand have been using JPEG for pretty much a decade. Most photography buffs don’t seem to fond of JPEG because it can degrade picture quality, but still love services like Flickr.

Will JPEG XR spark a photo revolution by allowing better quality?

A curious note about MovableType 3.x

A curious note on Jay Allen’s Blog:

If you run a non-profit multi-author blog (or any type that requires payment) you should contact 6A to get better (read: perhaps $0) licensing terms. They’ve asked people to do that because they aren’t in the business of milking those who are doing good and interesting things but can’t pay.

[Source: MT-Blacklist/Comment Spam Clearinghouse @ 10/26/2004 10:40 AM EST ]

I know many are upset over the new licensing. Perhaps this will convince people that SixApart isn’t the next evil empire.

Movable Type 3.0?

Well MovableType 3.0 has been released.

Not to thrilled about the new licensing. Not even sure if I should upgrade, or look at alternatives like WordPress, which looks really interesting. So I’m curious what other bloggers intend to do?

Personally I wish SixApart went for a more developer, community friendly model. Release the source under something like MPL. And sell the support, installation, and custom features/development. Wouldn’t require as much developers since people would join in and commit code. And would let them focus on larger things like TypePad (which could adopt contributed MovableType code), as well as custom jobs for larger companies looking for CMS. Combine that with a donation model.

They would cut their costs, and increase their productivity if they were smart about it. Now they are going to need to compete more with alternative platforms like WordPress, and I’m sure the many others that will come about in the next few months.

I’m personally a little more interested in what WordPress is going to evolve into in the coming months. They may have a new convert. I’m not to far from switching.

Some people are more intelligent after life

And here’s a great example of that theory. Yea right. Voluntary Collective Licensing VCL is about as legitimate as the “Universal language” many Linguist experts have been working towards for generations. It’s a system that will never work because it’s fundamentally flawed. What makes it so moronic is that people know it’s flawed, and they market it as perfect. So they blame Apple, a who recently entered this disaster as a failure. Yet having that much penetration in such a large market, and against all odds is rather substantial. Especially considering iTunes was Mac only for quite some time. And it’s competing against something that has no charge.

This is hysterical:

The vast majority of file sharers are willing to pay a reasonable fee for the freedom to download whatever they like, using whatever software suits them. In addition to those who would opt to take a license if given the opportunity, many more will likely have their license fees paid by intermediaries, like ISPs, universities, and software vendors.

Yea, come on guys. I’m positive even the author doesn’t believe that one.

A much better idea would be to create one open sourced DRM based network that is legalized.
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Mozilla Licensing ”Crack down”

I think it’s important to take a moment and address the recent reports of a “crack down” on Merchandise sellers using Mozilla trademarks.

Once upon a time (earlier today), Gerv Markham posted an Open Letter copied below for you to read as well.

First off. As most who read this website know my only affiliations with Mozilla.org are some patches I’ve written, debugging, and being a part of the Mozilla community.

I firmly back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s trademarks for the good of the community. It is essential to the growth, security, and reputation of the Mozilla community as well as the foundation. Allow me to explain, and I promise that I won’t rant for to long.

While many of the vendors selling Mozilla products are said to be of high quality (I’ve yet to own a non-software Mozilla product myself though), all it takes is one person abusing the trademark, and delivering inferior, or lack of goods to give the name “Mozilla” a bad reputation. Many people mistakenly assume that having a logo on a shirt means an endorsement. Which it’s not. The Mozilla Foundation would face a losing battle providing quality assurance to ensure that the Mozilla name is tarnished by a bad merchandiser, or scam. That name would very likely in the minds of the potential target market be associated with scam, rather than “superior browser”. THAT is not good for the browser as a viable alternative to IE. The Mozilla Foundation can not put itself in a position where the Mozilla name could be tarnished, removing it’s software’s reputation. Remember Mozilla is about quality software. That’s the goal.

Secondly, the Mozilla Foundation does a lot for the community. From all the servers (tinderboxes, lxr, bugzilla, www, ftp), to organizing, and paying some of the most talented programmers in the United States (seriously, interact with these guys on Bugzilla or IRC and you know your dealing with pro’s). All of this costs money. It’s a vital role to the community that the Foundation as a core entity provides. The AOL money won’t last forever. Not by a long shot. Yes, Mozilla has other interested partners helping. Lots of programmers from other companies are seen around the community. But it’s essential as a community we keep Mozilla Foundation afloat. Mozilla Foundation should be receiving licensing fees for use of trademarks. It’s only appropriate that the foundation, and in turn the community benefits from the use of the trademarks. For those about pure benefit, imaging funds from good merchandise being able to fund the hiring of another programmer full time? Just a thought.

It’s essential that Mozilla ensure that it’s name be used on it’s products, and only it’s products, or products it officially sanctioned. It’s for the good of the community. The Mozilla community owes it to the end users to ensure that it’s name is pure, and it protects end users from bad products in it’s name.

On another note, think about the idea of someone distributing a Mozilla browser compiled with Spyware, or adware bundled in. That wouldn’t be good. Do we want them to be easily doing so with the Mozilla trademark? I think not.

To address the Debian situation very briefly, I do believe a solution will be reached. Mozilla is a key product to the Linux community, and the Linux community is a key audience of the Mozilla browser. It is my personal belief that the browser should be branded as “Firefox, Debian Edition” or something to that effect, to let it be known that it’s acknowledged by Mozilla, but it’s got some changes to it. The source is said to be available in “a separate file”, so it would be possible to know what is Mozilla’s source, and what isn’t. This is, all IMHO.

So once again to reiterate, I back the Mozilla Foundations decision to enforce it’s copyright, and product the community from the hazards abuse can bring, and ensure it’s viability as the core foundation of this community. And no, I wasn’t threatened by a family of rabid monkey’s to say this. I am writing this at my own will, and have no obligation to even touch the topic, much less have some open dialog about it.

Dear Mozilla supporter,

We note that you are selling Mozilla-branded merchandise in your web shop/fashion house/bazaar stall (delete as appropriate.) While we are pleased that you want to support Mozilla in this way, the Mozilla Foundation enforces its trademarks and requires permission to sell merchandise that includes our artwork or name.

The Mozilla project uses Mozilla, Firefox, the fox-on-the-globe and other names and logos to brand its products and goods. We like to think that it’s a mark of quality. (That’s not to say that what you’re selling is necessarily poor quality; we make no claims either way.) We’d like to be certain that what’s being sold with our logos on is the good stuff. And (let’s be honest here) it’s only fair that we get a cut, to contribute towards keeping the Foundation going.

So we’d ask you, please, to stop selling Mozilla-branded merchandise and get in touch with icensing@mozilla.org to discuss how to proceed. We’ll talk business plans, quality guarantees, percentages and so on. We’re really open to coming to a fair arrangement.

The Mozilla store (http://store.mozilla.org) is our chosen vendor for the US, Canada and Mexico. OK, there’s not much stuff there now, but we hope to have more soon. So we’re unlikely to allow general Mozilla merchandise aimed at the general public to be offered by anyone else in those territories.

However, people in other countries, get in touch as outlined above and we’ll see if we can work something out. You want to support us, and we want to be supported – so it shouldn’t be too hard 🙂

Gerv

P.S. Our lawyers asked us to specify that the Mozilla Foundation reserves the right to take legal action to stop infringements of our trademarks.