Schlagwort-Archive: Free Software

GPL compliance and the persistent cancer theory

In the golden age of Open Source compliance offerings, one of the key marketing argument still appears to be: „The General Public License (GPL) is sooo risky. In case of GPL infringement, you will have to release all of your code – speak your intellectual property (IP) – under the same terms. Take our license scanner as we are the best to protect you against such nightmares.“

That statement simply is not correct. But very effective if you want to sell your services. Which company wants to be forced to release its valuable IP into the public only by not following specific license terms?

This myth was supposedly framed by Steve Balmer of Microsoft who once said back in 2001: „The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source. […] Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That’s the way that the license works.“

His general understanding of one of the basic principles of Free Software and the GPL – reciprocity – speaks of great intellectual power. However this muddle-headed theory in total is utterly wrong but still persistent today serving as one of the main arguments to sell license compliance offerings.

Even infringing the terms of the GPL will never force you to put your own source code under the same license. Simple as that.

Sure, in the worst case you have violated a software license. In this aspect there is no difference between the GPL or any other even proprietary license. Copyright infringement claims are caused by

  • the actual violation of the license and
  • the unlicensed use of software.

You have to cope with its consequences. Legal remedies are

  • punitive damages and
  • injunction to not distribute your product any further.

Not more, not less.

The most straight forward way out of this would naturally be to release your source code also under the terms of the GPL. Thereby making it public. This is what is understood as reciprocity – others can also benefit from your work, as you did from the original work. It is the recommended choice of the Free Software community.

But in case you want to protect your IP by keeping your own code secret, you are still left with various other options:

  • Remove it. Double check if the GPL-licensed component is really needed by your product. In case not, just remove it.
  • Refactor it. Either re-write the functionality provided by the component from scratch or replace it by another one that comes with a more permissive license.
  • Relicense it. Ask the original author(s) if they are open to re-license it. Either under a more permissive license or a commercial license for proprietary use.

The best wrap-up I have read is given by Heather J. Meeker in her book „Open (Source) for Business: A Practical Guide to Open Source Software Licensing“. A must read not only regarding this issue.

To conclude – whenever you hear such statement, be alarmed and listen more carefully to assure that the talking alleged expert really offers the necessary expertise to help you with license compliance.

HowTo: Thunderbird Maintenance

Over time Mozilla’s Thunderbird may happen to require some maintenance in order to continue running smoothly. Symptoms could be that either you cannot find mails that are supposed to be there, mails are doubling without any reason, or deleted mails show up again in its original folder.

Note that Thunderbird must be closed (and really not running) for the next steps to be successful. You then need to navigate to your profile folder and execute the given commands at the root of this directory.

HowTo: Thunderbird Maintenance weiterlesen

Open Source software within the public sector

Network World has recently published a map of countries that either encourage or mandate for consideration the use of Open Source software within their governmental institutions:

networkworld_os_map

The article by Jon Gold is entitled „Which countries have open-source laws on the books?“ and also points out that it is not that easy to provide a distinct and reliable picture.

So there is still a way to go and if you like to see more yellow countries, support the Free Software Foundation / Free Software Foundation Europe or the Open Source Initiative.

Email encryption

As more and more people want to encrypt their personal communication to preserve and to protect their privacy, this post should give a quick introduction and some useful hints regarding email encryption based on OpenPGP.

First of all: It may initially look like being quite complicated. The available guide will require some thorough reading. But in the end it is not that complex and absolutely worth the effort. As soon as one is familiar with the basic concepts and techniques it will be nothing more than locking/unlocking your front door. And probably you did not yet remove your door lock for reasons of simplicity?

Email encryption weiterlesen

Use of Open Source Software in Health Care Delivery – Results of a Qualitative Field Study

The article about my previous research has finally been published in the IMIA Yearbook 2013. It is meant to provide a practitioner’s perspective on the use of medical free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) in clinical routine. In this context I examined and presented the opinions and experiences of chief information officers (CIO) working at larger hospitals. The abstract reads like this:

Objectives: To assess and analyze the attitude of health IT executives towards the utilization of specialized medical Open Source software (OSS) in Germany’s and other European countries’ health care delivery.

Methods: After an initial literature review a field study was carried out based on semi-structured expert interviews. Eight German and 11 other European health IT executives were surveyed. The results were qualitatively analyzed using the grounded theory approach. Identified concepts were reviewed using SWOT analysis.

Results: In total, 13 strengths, 11 weaknesses, 3 opportunities, and 8 threats of the utilization of OSS in a clinical setting could be identified. Additionally, closely related aspects like general software procurement criteria, the overall attitude of health IT executives, users, and management towards OSS and its current and future use could as well be assessed.

Conclusions: Medical OSS is rarely used in health care delivery. In order to capitalize the unique advantages of OSS in a clinical setting, complex requirements need to be addressed. Short-comings of OSS describe an attractive breeding ground for new commercial offerings and services that need yet to be seen.

Schmuhl, H., Heinze, O., & Bergh, B. (2013). Use of Open Source Software in Health Care Delivery – Results of a Qualitative Field Study. Contribution of the EFMI LIFOSS Working Group. Yearbook of medical informatics, 8(1), 107–13.

The full text article available via: Apfelkraut.org | PubMed | Schattauer

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