GNU Business Network Definition comments

Shane M. Coughlan shane at
Mon Jun 26 08:54:10 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

Alex Hudson wrote:
> Is the proposal here that GBN applies to businesses themselves, or to
> the products that GBN businesses sell?
> As a consumer, I think the latter is vastly more interesting to me, but
> the discussion seems to be more about the former.

The existing proposals for the GBN definition determine what types of
products and services an eligible business can offer, thereby leading
the discussion to consideration of the business structure behind the
products and services.  A key issue might be that the GBN potentially
precludes certain types of corporate activity.  For instance, the
existing GBN definition does not allow support provision for both free
and non-free applications.  This restriction has an ethical foundation,
leading us back towards discussions of what constitutes a Free Software

I believe it's true that consumers will be interested in the products
and services offered.  However, if the GBN were only to apply to the
actual products and services (with no provision for business structure)
it would become a product label applied when convenient.  This may occur
in the same way that the OSI trademark can be applied if a product uses
one of their approved licenses.  It is therefore possible that Bob's
Non-Free Software Services could offer one application that would get a
GBN stamp, while continuing to offer and support a full range of
non-free products.

The really tricky bit comes when we discuss how to provide a fair avenue
of entry to the GBN for companies that currently offer non-free
services.  In short, how is it possible to offer a method of conversion
to Free Software without opening the GBN to abuse and misapplication?


PS: Hey Alex, I'll be in London in August for a talk at GLLUG.  Want to
meet for a coffee?

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Shane Martin Coughlan
e: shane at
m: +447773180107 (UK) +353862262570 (Ire)
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