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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Bootstrap and Licensing

Doug-    (01)

Thanks for chiming in on licensing.    (02)

GPL works for me. I feel that the GPL protects all parties involved for
a project like an OHS more than it weakens potential commercial use. We
gave the other approach (permission to use, grant seeking, etc.) two
years to get us an OHS and it hasn't panned out so far. Why not try the
GPL approach for a little while (in addition to other things people
might want to do) and see what happens? Looks like, for example, James
Michael DuPont is raring to go to work on an OHS under the GPL. I have
some stuff that could jumpstart such a GPL'd OHS effort as well.     (03)

Another reason I think the GPL is a good approach to try (for building
an OHS) is I feel the GPL implicitly defines a constitution for a
chaordic software development organization.
Who knows who or what else will turn up when unleashing such a chaordic
process on the OHS mission?    (04)

It is quite possible people or organizations who want to make money off
the OHS effort can do so working with a GPL'd version, just perhaps
differently than they might otherwise. They could:
* write books on a GPL'd OHS, 
* install a GPL'd OHS for clients, 
* do specialized editing of a GPL'd OHS's content, 
* maintain a GPL'd OHS in-house in an organization,
* be the in-house GPL'd OHS content librarian, 
* build proprietary add-ons for a GPL'd OHS, 
* do customization of a GPL'd OHS, 
* worry about security of a GPL'd OHS, 
* train users on a GPL'd OHS, 
* provide technical help desk support of a GPL'd OHS, 
* build a GPL'd OHS into hardware, 
* port a GPL'd OHS to new platforms on request, 
* use a GPL'd OHS to analyze stocks or do other secondary paying
* sell warranties for continued operation of a GPL'd OHS,
* certify certain builds of a GPL'd OHS as stable,
* test modified versions of a GPL'd OHS,
* give talks on a GPL'd OHS,
* write news articles about a GPL'd OHS,
* teach college courses on a GPL'd OHS,
* convert data from proprietary formats into open GPL'd OHS formats,
* us knowledge of a GPL'd OHS to be a more attractive employment
* charge people for shipping modified versions of a GPL'd OHS (as long
as they also provided all the source under the GPL at the time of sale)
* advise local, state, and federal governments and the UN on GPL'd OHS
* finally, to paraphrase the late Douglas Adams in "the Hitchikers Guide
to the Galaxy", and to all the people on these lists who have been
involved with UnRevII and the OHS for a long time: :-)
  > "I said I'd have to think about it, didn't I? And it
  > occurs to me that running a program like [a GPL'd OHS :-)] is
  > bound to create an enormous amount of popular
  > publicity. ... Everyone's going to have their own
  > theories and who better to capitalize on that media
  > market than you yourselves? So long as you can
  > keep disagreeing with each other violently enough
  > and maligning each other in the popular press, and
  > so long as you have clever agents, you can keep
  > yourselves on the gravy train for life. How does
  > that sound?"    (05)

One thing I can say is, in my opinion, at this juncture, the GPL path is
a more sure way to create a good OHS that builds "Collective IQ" than
any other license I know of. There is already a lot of other GPL'd code
out there that could potentially be integrated into the OHS effort, down
to building GCC or Emacs or GNU/Linux into a GPL'd OHS framework if such
proved worth doing. We can also draw from a whole range of GPL
compatible licensed software like Python. There are many GPL-using
developers who, if seeing a GPL'd OHS as a tool for freedom and global
problem solving, might just lend a hand in bootstrapping it.    (06)

While I could try to predict how other licensing types (free or
proprietary) might effect the evolution of an OHS and the "natural
language of the future", maybe we should just try 'em all and see. I
won't say there won't be a lot of static from people who prefer other
licenses if you (Doug) personally come out supporting a GPL'd OHS
version (either whole-heartedly or just to an extent), but why not let
anyone who feels strongly do their own OHS system under a different
license, and let the approaches compete and see which produces the
better OHS. If individuals flock to an approach like the GPL or put more
work into a GPL'd version because they like the license, then that is a
way of voting on their desired future. Ideally, all OHS projects, even
if under different licenses, will "steal" ideas from each other in a
good and legal way. If volunteers are doing the work, they can choose
the tools and licenses they are comfortable with. If people have
different preferences, they'll make their own version if they feel
strongly enough. It may seem wastefully redundant to an engineering
mindset to have all these people bumbling about and seemingly doing
their own thing, but with enough open source and free software developer
termites milling around, at least one nice OHS mound might get built out
of seeming chaos.
When some OHS developer termite makes something exciting, other OHS
developer termites will likely mill around the new artifact and pehaps
build on it. And remember, the bumbling will be guided in part by the
OHS spec:
as well as discussions such as from this list archived on the Bootstrap
site and the seed of the UnrevII colloquium. That wealth of digital wood
will give developer termites much to consume and create with, such as
Chris Dent and Kathryn La Barre have done already:
  http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~cjdent/unrev/index.cgi    (07)

I still personally feel after writing all this that GPL is the way to go
at this point because it embodies a certain ethic I am growing to like;
one can probably tell I just read Richard Stallman's biography "Free as
in Freedom": 
However, I still write the above on allowing many variously licensed OHS
flowers to bloom to be inclusive and because I always might be wrong,
and I don't want to rule out other approaches if people have the steam
to make them happen. Still, note that if Chris and Kathryn had built on
GPL'd OHS work, they could just go back to their university (which
apparently has also left their work hanging in legal limbo) and say the
results just had to be released under the GPL. It will take a very
greedy university to tell faculty, staff, and students they can't build
on a GPL'd codebase, and such a university might in the end be shamed
into allowing students to work on a GPL'd OHS if nothing else works.    (08)

Thanks for the comments and update on what's going on behind the scenes
on unraveling "permission to use" indemnification issues as a stumbling
block to progress. I feel surprising and fun things may happen once that
roadblock is removed whatever the licensing paths people here take for
their work.    (09)

-Paul Fernhout
Kurtz-Fernhout Software 
Developers of custom software and educational simulations
Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator
http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com    (010)

Doug Engelbart - Bootstrap Institute wrote:
> It is past time for me to speak up about "Licensing" and IP in general.  Here
> are what seem to me to be relevant thoughts; if they do not provide adequate
> answers, please quietly and instructively cue me in about what's needed for
> you.
> My general attitude is that emergent capabilities of new and forthcoming
> technologies, among other impacts upon our world, will enable us humans to
> extend our ability to manipulate and portray symbols in remarkably novel ways.
> Way beyond visual print symbols -- e.g. to include special "signal-codes"
> presented to our eyes, ears, noses, taste buds, touch, movement, temperature,
> skin-hair tugs, ... etc.  Here, very complex combinations and sequencing offer
> us new "symbols" and new "symbol structures" providing a huge increase beyond
> current languages in meaningful communications and knowledge.
> For this "IP discussion," it is enough for me here to characterize the
> continued evolution of the augmentation of our Collective IQ as relating
> closely to the evolution of "natural languages."  E.g., the form of English
> which we are using in this forum.
> And, dipping lightly into the object-oriented vernacular, the software for
> manipulating and portraying the symbol structures in our natural language need
> to be as free and open in the evolution and use of their objects and methods as
> are the vocabulary terms and syntactic rules of a natural language.
> Also to be considered are the huge number of evolutionary paths ahead of us,
> and the challenge of facilitating the evolutionary processes to find us the
> best paths and for us to become collectively smart enough in the ridiculously
> short time of say the next decade or so to cope with all the other disruptive,
> crippling threats caused by the associated, over-rapid, huge-scale, pervasive
> changes.
> So, to my limited experience, it seems that GPL licensing would be best for
> objects and methods representing the verbs, nouns, modifiers, etc. of the
> Natural Language of our Augmented Future.
> The roads, bridges, traffic laws, intersection rules and controls, parking
> facilities, etc. don't seem to be controlled by private enterprise and
> free-market rules.
> So, I ask, how would each of the current licensing types encourage, curtail,
> stifle, or etc. the evolution of an OHS and the "natural language of the
> future?"
> *****
> And about the constraints on current interchanges: I'm definitely for removing
> them, and we're getting lawyer help in untangling the holdover, initial
> arrangements made with Stanford for the mutual BI-Stanford activities during
> the 10-week Colloqium.    (011)