[OFFTOPIC] Influencing Netscape License (was Re: netscape.)

Noel Maddy (ncm@biostat.hfh.edu)
Fri, 23 Jan 1998 10:38:29 -0500

Mitch Davis wrote:
> My question now is, how do we ensure that the Netscape client is
> managed in "bazaar" fashion? (See
> http://locke.ccil.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-paper.html)

Well, it seems to me that a key part of it will be what the license ends
up looking like. All we know so far is that it will be "a license which
allows source code modification and redistribution and provides for free
availability of source code versions, building on the heritage of the
GNU Public License." They HAVE NOT published the license yet, and they
HAVE NOT promised that it will be the GPL license, or even that it would
be free the sense that the GPL license is free.

It's pretty obvious that Netscape really wants (needs) this product
to move into the bazaar-fashion development, so that it can continue
to compete with MSIE. But if they mess up the license so it's still
"their" product, and they still have development control somehow, then
we won't reach the bazaar. On the other hand, I can see that they would
have a strong inclination to keep at least some control of what's done
to Netscape -- from their viewpoint, it's the name recognition that
they're trying to maintain, and it's a bit frightening to completely
give up control of the main product that gives that name recognition.

Rather than crowing about the non-existent GPL-ing of the Netscape code,
wouldn't it behoove us to let Netscape know that there *are* many people
who would really love to work on Netscape, but that it depends on the
license that they put on it. Let's tell them what kind of a license
would encourage us to be involved.

[For some ideas, check out http://www.debian.org/social_contract.html]

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Noel Maddy <nmaddy1@biostat.hfh.edu>