Tuesday Mar 18, 2008

Thinking about what Open means

Up to London to meet with work colleagues in our public policy programmes team. The meeting was opened by Simon Phipps, who introduced us to his reworking of "Software Market 3.0". Its now called the "Adoption Market" and Simon expresses it best in his own words on his Sun blog. An illustration of how free creates adoption and innovation is that Open Solaris now has 750 projects. He then explored the nature and role of free licences. There is or should be agreement about the nature and purposes of the main types of free licences, although we can all get into the "mine's better than yours" arguments, which while being fun, aren't usually a good use of time. Simon pointed out that a number of the free licences are considering or adopting non-agression clauses.

One fear is that as the free licenses gather momentum, intellectual property owners will seek to defend themselves using trademarks. It may become very difficult to make new trademarks since they're all taken. Once, I was stupid enough to believe someone who told me that IBM had trademarked all the numbers between 1000 and 9999. (It was a long time ago, I am bit more cynical now.)

He also brought us up to date with our work on open document standards, it seems we and more and more users are coming to the belief that users should choose a document's format not product authors. One of the critical issues with a proprietary format, is that the product authors decide when a standard is obsolete, not the document owner/author.

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