While back on the Open Core topic anyway, a few notes on how 3 projects have reacted to the debate and criticism of the past Summer.
I personally work mostly in the middleware layer of things, especially databases, so I'm most familiar with the open core practices of MySQL, SugarCRM, JasperSoft and others in this space. So when LWN reported on the open core backlash last Summer, it was the first time I learned that a syslog utility known as Syslog-ng also follows this model. A basic syslog functionality is free and open source software, and there is a commercial version that comes with closed source addons. They have a contributor agreement of course, to make it work.
Except that they have now tweaked their model as follows:
The pre-voting has started in Sweden,and there are 15 days until election day.
Much has been said about open core, but with the OSI coming out squarely against it on the one hand, and Rackspace and NASA creating the OpenStack.org project as a "true open source replacement" for Eucalyptus on the other hand, it seems open core is now much less attractive than it was only a week ago. It seems everyone has now learned what open core is and agrees that it is not open source, nor is it good for open source. (And by "everyone" I mean everyone that really are open source advocates, naturally those who directly or indirectly are trying to profit from open core will continue to promote the model for a long time to come.)
The final question that remains to be answered is, if I know about open core and don't like it, what can I do to help prevent its spreading and rather promote the adoption of true open source?
With my personal experience working for MySQL, I've had a few years to collect some ideas, and would like to share them below. Please add your own in the comments and I'll keep updating this post so it can remain a useful reference.
(Last updated Aug 29, 2010.)
Below is my talk from the International Federation of Computer Law Associations conference banquet that took place in Helsinki last week. (It is post-edited to match what was actually said.)
I have to say I was quite honored to be asked to speak. I was preceded by Finlands Minister of Justice Tuija Brax and later in the evening followed by imho Finlands funniest magician Martti Vannas. The dinner was set in the old stock market building of Helsinki, an exquisite restaurant now. I'm happy to say the talk was well received and many of the lawyers came to thank me afterwards.
Glyn Moody has an interesting piece on Why Patents are Like Black Holes where he looks at the situation when a large patent holder goes bankrupt - or is about to. His point is that even if a company otherwise can go out of business cleanly, the patents often remain as a piece of "IPR" that can come back and haunt us like a zombie.
Also Matt Asay recently weighed in on the subject:
Last week Finland voted a law that next summer everyone is entitled to at least 1Mbit broadband connection. Not for free, just that it must be available to 100%, if you are a nation wide service provider.
Considering that Finland is a sparsely populated country, and service providers have in fact been removing cables in the country side. Indeed, the statute allows for some variances in the speed specifically to allow implementations with wireless broadband.
We know it's true, now it's been scientifically proven. (At least pending an independent study for confirmation?) When a book gets onto p2p networks, there is a sales peak, not a decline:
Brian O'Leary, founder of publishing consultancy Magellan Media, measured the impact of peer-to-peer piracy on titles published by the US house O'Reilly for 71 weeks. At today's Tools of Change conference in Frankfurt, the first in Europe, he revealed that while non-pirated books (both print and e-books) showed a "trending decline" after an initial sales peak, the sample titles saw a second peak at the onset of piracy. From week 19, which is on average when titles began to be pirated, to week 23, which was the average second peak, sales rose 90%.
"Rick Falkvinge: Today is a good day for epic winnage.11 hours ago" (Facebook status of the Chairman of Swedish Pirate Party.)
The Swedish Pirate Party (the first of the many national Pirate Parties popping up) wins it's first seat (bordering on two, some votes still left to count) in the European Parliament tonight, with 7+ %. In percentages they drive right past 3 long time established parties from the Swedish national parliament.
This is a historical moment in the turns of copyright and even civil liberties movements. I've personally for years supported the EFFish approach (and member of the Finnish equivalent EFFI) of lobbying all political parties with rational arguments about how good copyright, patents and civil liberties legislation will benefit the economy and society in general. Maybe we have achieved something there, who knows how the world would look like without the EFF. I'm still a supporter of the basic principle of copyright, after all, Open Source licenses like the GPL actually rely on it.