TSR – The Server Room – Shownotes – Episode 27

The Logo has changed as well…. Thanks to my friend Antonio Garcia Hernandez https://www.instagram.com/antonioghd/

Questions which bother me in general

What does Open Source Software means?

What about Software which uses Open Source code/contribution?
Do They give back to the source/s where they were taking from?

The question of Licensing BSD License / Berkeley and the GPL v2 and v3 licenses

Software can be Open Source and Respecting users Freedom/Privacy and be for Cost at the same time But Can They actually make money of that?

What stops an individual to get the open source code of a paid freedom respecting software and fork it / build it on his/her own machine perhaps with just a slight modification of a color or something minuscule to make it just a tidbit differ from the original and use it ,,as his own” for free as in No cost and crippleing the source of income of this company with this move..

What can motivate Companies therefore to Open Source their code of Paid applications * as to show their respecting freedom or otherwise* IF it could cripple their income stream?

On that same thought … Who would continue to pay for Microsoft Office and Visio and Project apps ( not debating how good their are or they are not or if any valid other alternative exists ) if they d just upload it source up to github and People could fork/build it on their own machine and use it for Free as in No Cost? Can Microsoft be blamed for not doing this?

IMHO I believe in Open Source apps but in the same time I believe the need in certain apps of closed source for maintaining its leading edge on the market and to drive them even further in development and making the software better by not telling everyone how its done….

Should Coca cola share the recipe of Coca Cola and let people make it at home ( if possible) and cripple its own revenue source? resulting in thousands of thousands of jobs lost wordwide? Its the same with closed source software ( some respects your freedom and want to do no harm to you while others like Apple for sure want to control you tied to a leash for sure … look at all the controllig and limiting functions of iphones and macs…but that could be another topic) those SW companies with closed source intellectual properties like Microsoft , VMware , Veeam and the list goes on… apart from being called evil of not opening up their source code to the masses by open sourcing it, they also create thousands of jobs.

IF most of us would have access to the source code/s we d for it ourselves and would not ever pay a cent again for the software anymore… people would loose their jobs and go work what?

Open Source Licensing (FOSS Licenses)

Apart from this original or basic dilemma there is another two things … The different Open Source licenses and the Free Software Foundation where Free does not mean No Cost but Free as in Freedom of the Users and respect to their privacy

Its a big pool of mess if You ask me .. More than 80 open source licenses exist in two big categories mostly: permissive and copyleft licenses

A permissive license is simple and is the most basic type of open source license: It allows you to do whatever you want with the software as long as you abide by the notice requirements. Permissive licenses provide the software as-is, with no warranties. So permissive licenses can be summarized as follows:

  • Do whatever you want with the code
  • Use at your own risk
  • Acknowledge the author/contributor

Copyleft licenses add requirements to the permissive license. In addition to the requirements listed above, copyleft licenses also require that:

  • If you distribute binaries, you must make the source code for those binaries available
  • The source code must be available under the same copyleft terms under which you got the code
  • You cannot place additional restrictions on the licensee’s exercise of the license

The table below categorizes popular open source licenses under the permissive and copyleft frameworks. The copyleft licenses are also listed in ascending order of strength, from strongest at the top to the weakest at the bottom. “Strength” refers to the degree to which surrounding software may need to be subject to the same copyleft requirements. For example, GPL is strong because it requires that any program that contains GPL code must contain only GPL code. LGPL is weaker because it allows dynamic linking to other proprietary code without subjecting that linked code to the same GPL requirements. The weakest copyleft licenses, EPL and MPL, allow any kind of integration with other code, as long as EPL or MPL code is in its own file.

Permissive LicensesCopyleft Licenses
BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution)
Apache 2
Affero GPL (AGPL)GPLLesser GPL (LGPL)Mozilla Public License (MPL)Eclipse Public License (EPL)Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL)

When a company wants to include an Open Source element into their closed source software (( nevertheless if its nice of them to have their own code closed source and using bits and pieces from Open source software for free as in no cost to make their own software of closed source better… )) some open source licenses make this easy and effortless while others make it near impossible to be used without certain limitations or loosing of the possibility perhaps to copyright the resulting application as a whole itself…

Its very complex and confusing for me to be honest .. but nevertheless is an interesting topic

Top open source questions

When I advise clients on open source licensing, the four most common questions they ask are:

  1. What is “distribution?”
  2. How do open source licenses affect patent rights in software?
  3. What is the “notice” requirement and how do I comply?
  4. What is a “derivative work” and, related, does incorporating GPL code into my proprietary code cause the proprietary code to be licensed under GPL?

The short answers to these questions appear below:

  1. What is “distribution?” In simple terms, distribution refers to transferring a copy of a copyrighted work (such as software) from one legal person to another. The concept of distribution matters because the requirements of open source licenses are triggered only when software is distributed. Thus, a person who does not distribute software cannot violate an open source license’s terms. And because “legal person” includes a corporation, there is no distribution—and therefore no risk of violating a license’s terms—if software is merely transferred between employees of the same company.

Today, distribution can be a thornier question for businesses that deploy software through the Internet, cloud, or a SaaS model. Does allowing users to interact with a software application over the Internet qualify as distribution? For most open source licenses, the answer is no. Indeed, GPLv3 uses the term “convey” rather than “distribute,” precisely to clarify that SaaS use does not trigger any license requirements. But the Affero GPL (AGPL) license is one exception that takes a different approach. AGPL’s requirements (which are the same as GPL) are triggered once software is modified and made available for use and interaction over a network.

  1. How do open source licenses affect patent rights in software? Some open source licenses (e.g., Apache 2, GPLv3) include express patent license provisions, which grant recipients a license to any patents covering the software product. Other open source licenses (e.g., BSD, MIT, GPLv2) are mum on patent licenses. Nonetheless, for these licenses, courts may use the doctrine of “implied license” to find that recipients are still licensed and protected from any patent infringement allegation arising from using the licensed software product. By doing this, courts prevent licensors from taking “two bites at the apple” and suing for patent infringement for using the very software they have licensed. In sum, unless expressly stated otherwise, open source licenses limit the author’s ability to sue license-abiding recipients for alleged patent infringement.
  2. What is the “notice” requirement and how do I comply? The notice requirement means that a distributor of open source software must inform recipients that certain open source software, which is available under the noticed license, is included in the software being delivered to the recipient. Open source licenses each have their own specific notice requirements. Commonly, these requirements include providing entire copies of applicable licenses and acknowledging authors and contributors. A best practice is to deliver the source code covered by the license up front because full copies of licenses are typically included as text files in the source code package. Another best practice is to follow the GPL’s notice requirements because they are considered among the most stringent. Thus, complying with GPL’s notice requirements will usually ensure compliance with other applicable open source licenses’ notice requirements.
  3. Derivative works and the myth of viral GPL: A common concern of clients is that by incorporating code licensed under GPL (or similar copyleft license) into their proprietary code, the proprietary code will be “infected” or “contaminated” and become licensed under GPL (i.e., the proprietary code is effectively converted into GPL code) or forced into the public domain. This concern causes some to view GPL as viral and discourages them from using GPL code because they are worried that any derivative works that incorporate GPL code will also be licensed under GPL.

These concerns are largely unfounded. It is true that under GPL, all code in a single program must be either be subject to GPL or not subject to GPL. So if a developer were to combine GPL code with proprietary code and redistribute that combination, it would violate the GPL. But the likely worst-case consequence of this violation is that the author of the GPL code could exercise their right to bring a claim for copyright infringement. The remedy for copyright infringement is either damages (money) or injunction (stop using the GPL code). Critically, copyright law supports no remedy that would force the offending developer to license their proprietary code under GPL or to put that code into the public domain. Combining GPL code with proprietary code does not therefore “infect” the proprietary code or convert it into GPL code.

The FSF or The Free Software Foundation










Author: viktormadarasz

IT OnSite Analyst for a big multinational company