Is Open Source the Best Way to Unlock the Value of IT?

The president of OSI says open source brings a true common operating platform.

LAS VEGAS—Open source is truly the best way to unlock the value of information technology, Michael Tiemann, president of the Open Source Initiative, said at the annual Gartner Open Source Summit here Sept. 20.

"Open source can give you a common operating platform for real, and if you use Linux as a leveler, the individual ships will all right themselves rather than colliding into one another," he said, pointing to the fact that even Microsoft submitted two of its licenses to the OSI for approval, although as a company it remains ambivalent toward open source.

Tiemann also defended the recently released update to the GNU GPL (General Public License), pointing out that that OSI and Free Software Foundation agreed more than they disagreed.


Read more here about the release of GPLv3.

The recently released GPLv3 open-source license, which was recently certified by the OSI as open-source compliant, reflects the response to substantial legislative changes over the past 17 years and the new interpretations of copy law, and is a stable commitment to principles, he said.

"Going from GPLv2 to GPLv3 is not a huge change, but an incremental upgrade," he said, noting that there are now 2 million connected open-source developers who need a license that reflects current realities.

The free software movement is one driven by an intuitive sense of ethics, while the OSI and its Open Source Definition, which reflects 10 observed methods, are more scientific.

"The OSIs philosophy is to observe, while the FSFs is to believe. But the two are marching in harmony, and we agree more than disagree," he said, pointing out that the OSIs mission is to educate and advocate on the topic of open source and be responsible to the open-source community while engaging the business community as well.

Asked why the OSI recently approved CPAL (Common Public Attribution License), the first new license OKd in a while, Tiemann said he had disapproved of the original license that was submitted by SocialText.


Click here to read more about the new CPAL license.

"I felt that the General Attribution Provision in the original version of the license would disrupt one or more of the 10 methods of the OSD. By the time the reworked and renamed CPAL license was submitted, it offered a very broad and usable safe harbor provision for how the attribution provision could be exercised, which had not been present in the initial GAP submission," he said.

Asked what he would ideally like to see by 2015, Tiemann said he would like to see an IT health care system that works.

"We need to question whether a proprietary system is the way to go for this, whether open source is the right way to go, or if there is another way. The free market model behind the World Wide Web and the Internet is one that can be applied to health care, but only if there is the will to do so," he said.


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