FW: Ethics of Circumventing OS

Gladwell, Ricardo ricardo.gladwell at demon.net
Fri Mar 16 15:44:57 UTC 2001

Dear All,

I recently came across an article in the Internet developer publication,
Webtechniques <http://www.webtechniques.com/>. The article entitled 'Can
CORBA Sidestep Open-Source Licensing?'
<http://www.webtechniques.com/archives/2001/04/trachtman/> discusses a
method of using CORBA to circumvent the lisencing restrictions for
open-sourced code. Whilst such loop-holes in copyleft are nothing new,
advocating what amounts to the corruption of the ideals of free-software
movement for personal profit.

I sent the following email to the author of the article, and the editors of
Webtechniques. If you will note, I petitioned my own company to cancel its
subscription to this journal and I am forwarding you this email with the
suggestion that anyone reading this do the same.


Ricardo Gladwell, Web Developer
Demon Internet, Westhumble House,
Dorking Business Park, Dorking. RH4 1HJ
Tel: +44 (01306) 732 356
Mobile: +44 (07779) 841 444

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gladwell, Ricardo 
> Sent: 16 March 2001 15:33
> To: 'michael at eloquence.com'; 'editors at webtechniques.com'
> Subject: Ethics of Circumventing OS
> Dear Mr. Michael Trachtman,
> I shocked to read your recent article in the Internet 
> developer magazine, Webtechniques. As you may recall the 
> article, entitled 'Can CORBA Sidestep Open-Source 
> Licensing?', discusses the possibility of using the CORBA 
> architecture to circumvent open-source licensing. The 
> procedure detailed in the article allows developers to extend 
> open-source code without being legally obliged to release 
> their own code under similar terms.
> Whilst the legal ramifications of doing this are discussed in 
> some detail, I was appalled to find that the ethical concerns 
> of using open-source code - code that has been charitably 
> given to the open-source community - for personal gain and 
> profit are not even mentioned. Developers (like myself) gain 
> nothing financially from publishing their code under the GPL, 
> or GPL-like licenses, so to suggest a method of profiting 
> from their work is tantamount to advocating theft.
> You mention that 'open-source software is among the best 
> written and most widely used software in the world'. What you 
> fail to mention that it is the best and most popular software 
> precisely because any modifications or additions made to the 
> code is put back into the community, for everybody's benefit. 
> This is a particularly glaring omission that, in my opinion, 
> serves only to gloss over the more devious aspects of your article.
> A double standard is at work here: I imagine Webtechniques 
> would never publish an article that described a method for 
> circumventing the licensing of copyrighted, commercial 
> software. That would be considered, quite rightly, as 
> unethical, as theft. Yet, it would seem the editors feel that 
> it is ethically viable to publish a procedure that exploits a 
> hole in copyleft and corrupts the ideals of the open-source 
> movement. What is more, the article in question legitimises 
> the act of profiting from this - profits that rightly belong 
> to the open-source movement.
> Please note that I have successfully petitioned my company to 
> cancel its subscription to Webtechniques in protest and I 
> shall be forwarding this email on to various news groups and 
> mailing lists with the suggestion that others do the same.
> Yours sincerely...
> -- 
> Ricardo Gladwell, Web Developer
> Demon Internet, Westhumble House,
> Dorking Business Park, Dorking. RH4 1HJ
> Tel: +44 (01306) 732 356
> Mobile: +44 (07779) 841 444

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