By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-09-30 Print this article Print

-Source Business Needs"> Now, I dont know what Sakics contract said. But Ive done a lot of programming over the decades, and in every place I ever worked or did contract programming, my contracts always had "work for hire" clauses that made it perfectly clear that any work I did on the job belonged to the company.

Should Furthermore have released that code under the GPL? Maybe; as I understand the GPL, it depends on whether Furthermore itself distributed the code.

But thats not the problem at hand. The real problem is that Furthermore says the programmer took its copyrighted code and placed it in an open-source project, and neither the Mambo group nor its corporate copyright owner, Miro, is trying to resolve the issue anywhere except in Web site "news" releases.

This is not the way to do it.

The open-source business needs two things. The first are organizations such as Black Duck Software with its software that checks for IP (intellectual property) problems, and OSRM (Open Source Risk Management), which offers open-source indemnification and insurance services. These companies help clear out possible IP conflicts before they become public or courtroom fights.

We need more, though. The open-source community also needs—and boy does this fight point it out—a recognized, neutral arbitration board. Such a group could take these kinds of disagreements between open-source groups and companies and settle them before they become public flame wars.

No, that wouldnt help much for the massive IP battles such as SCO versus IBM over Unix and Linux. For situations like that, the courts are the only answer. But for other, smaller matters, such as Furthermore versus Mambo and Miro, having a recognized, accepted arbitration group that could settle such matters could only be a positive good.

Anything would be better than what we have now. As it is, everyone involved in this public catfight is being damaged. And I might add, so is the whole open-source community. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Be sure to add our Linux news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel