December 07, 2005

OSS SIG meeting recordings

The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council's Open Source Software Special Interest Group held a meeting on December 1, 2005. There were two parts, both of which included discussion of software licensing, the GPL, and related corporate interactions. The first part was a talk by Gartner's Nick Gall, an analyst who was previously an IP attorney. The second part included representatives from Fidelity Investments talking about their use of OSS and how they deal with various licensing issues.

The meeting was recorded and is available online (though not part of the Software Garden podcast series). See the OSS SIG's wiki page about the meeting for links to the recordings.

Corporate attorneys will probably find both recordings of interest. There were several attorneys in attendence and there was a lot of give and take between the speakers and the audience. These weren't speeches as much as discussions in many ways.

Posted by danb at 07:38 PM | Permalink

November 14, 2005

Sixth Podcast Interview: Attorney Stephen Gold

The Software Licensing podcast series finally has another show, show number six. The development of a new product from Software Garden (wikiCalc) and all the Massachusetts state government-related podcasts have slowed things down a bit (including the one listed here as well as the October 31, 2005, hearing listed on the Dan Bricklin's Log podcast series).

This show is a discussion with attorney Stephen Gold of the firm Gordon and Glickson LLC in Chicago, IL. Steve has experience in both business law counseling and information technology matters. He advises some big companies as well as some smaller ones. We discuss how general corporate lawyers he has interacted with have been dealing with Open Source Software and in particular with software covered by the GPL. He also gives his opinion about certain controversial clauses in the GPL.

Posted by danb at 03:36 PM | Permalink

September 21, 2005

Open Formats meeting with Massachusetts officials

On Friday, September 16, 2005, a meeting was held by the Mass Technology Leadership Council (an organization formed by a combination of the Massachusetts Software Council and the New England Business and Technology Association). The purpose of the meeting was to give feedback to the State of Massachusetts government on the latest draft iteration of their Enterprise Technical Reference Model, specifically the section on document formats.

The issue of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' choice of open document formats is of interest to many in the Open Source and Open Formats world, and relates to licensing, so I mention it here.

In attendance at the meeting were Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Eric Kriss and CIO of the Commonwealth Peter Quinn, as well as representatives from a wide variety of Council member software companies.

The meeting was recorded in its entirety by the Council and is available for download.

You will find a link to the recording on the Council's OSS SIG wiki on the "Open Format Meeting September 2005" page.

Posted by danb at 05:28 PM | Permalink

August 02, 2005

Fifth Podcast Interview: Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media

The fifth Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast is now available. It is an interview with Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media.

O'Reilly Media is a major publisher of computer books. It also hosts conferences on computer languages, Open Source, and Emerging Technologies. Tim discusses their policy for copying computer code examples in their books, their experience with copyable and online books and the effects of piracy, the value of the openness and the "architecture of participation", where there's value in the Open Source ecosystem, the balance between what you own and what you give away, and more.

Some related links:

Posted by danb at 10:58 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2005

Fourth Podcast Interview: Marten Mickos of MySQL

The fourth Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast is now available. It is an interview with Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB.

MySQL AB produces MySQL, a very popular database system that is released under a "dual license" approach that includes the GPL as well as a proprietary one. Marten discusses the differences between the two licenses and the issue of deciding which to use. He also talks about business models, ensuring ownership of copyrights in an Open Source project and in general, software patents, the fact that about 40% of MySQL's active installations are on Windows computers, various segmentations of their market with respect to different licenses, and whether an Open Source-based ISV can make a reasonable amount of money in the eyes of investors.

Some related links:

Posted by danb at 09:42 AM | Permalink

June 26, 2005

Mass Software Council Meeting

The MSC OSS SIG meeting was really good. I'm posting material about it on its own blog, The first hour was a discussion about Software Licensing and a recording of the session is available online.

Posted by danb at 09:23 PM | Permalink

June 22, 2005

A tale of an Open Source project

Bob Frankston pointed me to this excerpt from a book about an Open Source product that runs on Microsoft technologies. The 28-page chapter goes into lots of things about the evolution of a successful project. It's like reading a blog covering a few years. Well worth reading if you're into the realities of Open Source.

Read the PDF: Professional DotNetNuke ASP.NET Portals (excerpt)

Posted by danb at 02:39 PM | Permalink

June 06, 2005

The Open Cellphone

As I wrote earlier, I'm doing some podcasting on another topic (the "Open Cellphone") for DiamondCluster. They've just posted the first show in that series. For more information see Some of what we talk about is probably of interest to many who read this blog.

Posted by danb at 08:16 PM | Permalink

June 03, 2005

Open Source event at the Mass Software Council

Podcasting has taken a backseat for a few weeks. I expect to record a few more shows on software licensing later in the month. I have some speaking engagements to prepare for and do, and I'm also finishing up a podcast on a different topic for DiamondCluster (more about that at some point soon on my personal blog, I hope). The response so far to the software licensing podcasts has been quite good.

One of the events I'm participating in is for the Massachusetts Software Council's Open Source Special Interest Group. We are kicking off the SIG with a "summit" meeting on Friday, June 24th, at the Babson College Executive Conference Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts. There are three sessions and a lunch with a keynote by JBoss CEO Marc Fleury. The sessions are: Open Source Licensing, Open Source Business Models and Strategies, and a technical discussion about how to create a successful Open Source project. We'll have senior people in the thick of Open Source issues from Red Hat, IBM (Douglas Heintzman, executive chair of IBM's Open Source Steering Committee just confirmed), Novell and the Mono Project, JasperSoft, and others up on stage and I hope lots of interaction with people in the audience.

Check out the details on the Software Council website on the page for this event.

Seating is limited, so sign up in advance. The event is only $20 in advance and I'm giving out complimentary copies of the evaluation version of my "A Developer's Introduction to Copyright and Open Source" video (they normally go for $29.95). I'm going to try to get this recorded for podcasting, but I can't be sure that I'll be able to.

Posted by danb at 12:38 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2005

Third podcast interview: Lawrence Rosen

The third Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast is now available. It is an interview with lawyer Lawrence Rosen of the law firm RosenLaw & Einschlag.

Larry has served as the general counsel and secretary of the Open Source Initiative, authored the book "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law", and advises Black Duck Software and SpikeSource, Inc. We discussed the "based upon" language in the GPL and derivative works for about 15 minutes, then indemnification, due diligence in mergers and acquisitions (Open Source and proprietary), audits, attorney/client privilege, the effects of Open Source and Open Standards on policies about patents, and more.

Some related links:

Posted by danb at 04:04 PM | Permalink

May 21, 2005

Second podcast interview: Joel Spolsky

The second Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast is now available. It is an interview with software developer, author, blogger (Joel On Software), and Fog Creek Software co-founder Joel Spolsky.

Joel has the perspective of one who worked for Microsoft back in the 1990's and develops and sells proprietary software today. We talked about developers keeping track of where their code comes from and watching out for GPL code that shouldn't be there, why developers who read Slashdot and Eric Raymond are more likely to be at least somewhat aware of copyright issues than their managers who don't, differences between Windows and Unix when it comes to combining code (especially back in the days when the GPL was written), access to Microsoft source code, economics of Open Source, and more.

Some related links:

Posted by danb at 05:09 PM | Permalink

May 19, 2005

New podcast from Software Garden - Linda Hamel

I've started a new podcast aimed at people interested in software licensing, open source, and similar issues. It's called "Dan Bricklin's Sofware Licensing Podcast". I will be posting recordings of interviews and other material in MP3 format suitable for listening on a music player (like the Apple iPod and its ilk) or directly on your personal computer (if it's sound-enabled with MP3-playing software, as most newer ones are).

You can learn about new "shows" by reading this weblog, or by subscribing to the podcast's RSS feed using software such as iPodder, iPodderX, Doppler, etc. A list of shows is also available on this page. The main Software Garden podcast page is

The people I hope to interview are deeply involved in legal issues or software development. The first show is an interview with Commonwealth of Massachusetts Information Technology Division General Counsel Linda Hamel. For over 30 minutes she discusses her experience as a lawyer of the Commonwealth's move to encourage the use of Open Source in the mix of software they buy and commission. She talks about how government entities, like the State, have a different risk profile when it comes to Open Source than many commercial entities. She goes over some of her own learning experiences. Some of what she says fits in very nicely with the theories presented in another podcast (on ITConversations) of Geoffrey Moore's "Open Source Has Crossed the Chasm...Now What?" which describes situations when Open Source is the appropriate choice for companies. Linda ends with: "...[with respect to Open Source Licensing] the culture is reflected in the legal documents and if you don't understand the culture it's going to be very hard for you to understand the legal documents."

Linda has posted a lot of useful material on the ITD website,, especially in the "Policies, Standards & Legal" section.

Posted by danb at 11:51 AM | Permalink

May 09, 2005

Podcast about Open Source business models

ITConversations has a new podcast from the Open Source Business Conference 2005: Larry Augustin, CEO of Medsphere, an open source software company that delivers a sophisticated healthcare information system, talks about "The Next Wave of Open Source: Applications". It's 42 minutes long and interesting. By "applications" he means enterprise-level stuff like CRM and ERP, not desktop stuff like word processors. He even goes so far as to take Siebel's income statement and see how it would be changed if they were an Open Source company like JBoss or his company. The keys: Open Source cuts your marketing cost substantially (he explains in detail), and opens up small and medium sized businesses as a huge potential market.

Posted by danb at 10:38 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2005

The video is available for purchase, finally...

The video is now available for purchase. A detailed posting about that is on Dan Bricklin's Log, so I won't repeat that here, just this link to the product's page which has links to the purchasing pages. The video is available two ways: Corporate Training Copy ($695) and Evaluation Copy ($29.95).

Posted by danb at 03:37 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2005

Confusing Open Standards with Open Source

IBM issued a press release last week about something they were doing to help "...accelerate the adoption of open standards based solutions in Israel." Many news outlets picked up the Reuters article on the subject, which was titled "IBM, Israeli Ministry to Back Open-Source Startups".

Do you notice something wrong here? IBM is talking about Open STANDARDS, and the Reuters article talks about Open SOURCE. In fact, further into the Reuters article it says "Open standards is an approach to technology development in which inventors make the underlying progamming [sic] code publicly available for other developers to build on and extend. It contrasts with the proprietary, or closed development approach most major technology companies, led by Microsoft Corp., have used to maximize their control over products they build." Of course, that's wrong. That's a definition for Open Source, not Open Standards. There is confusion between the terms Open Standards and Open Source. Even Linux Today picked the article up with that headline.

I checked with an IBM PR person, and indeed, the agreement is about products that work with IBM technologies through Open Standards (of course, some of these technologies are implemented with Open Source, but not all, but the products being developed don't have to be Open Source).

The article's writer, Eric Auchard, certainly knows the difference. Apparently, somewhere along the way to publication as the article had links added and headlines written, the headline became "Open-Source" instead of "Open Standards", and then a paragraph defining Open Source got added, but with it now saying it was about Open Standards. Of course, since IBM talks about both, and Israel was basically closed to business around the Passover holiday, confusion was easy to happen. I understand this will probably be corrected (as news articles from a wire service frequently have always been).

For me this was yet another example of something I've been pointing out for some time: There is a lot of confusion about Open Source that comes from lack of knowledge. Precise terms matter. "Highway" "Driveway" -- what's the difference? They're both "ways". "Source", "Standards", they're both "Open" and have to do with software, whatever that is. No.

Make sure people really know and understand what you're talking about when you talk about Open Source or Open Standards. Many proprietary products support Open Standards quite well. Some Open Source does not. Open Standards does not mean Open Source.

This is one of the issues I bring up in my video. It's nice to see it was worth devoting time to. (By the way, the video is in duplication and should be ready for purchase next week.)

Posted by danb at 12:22 PM | Permalink