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View Diary: Giving away the Obama code base is a bad idea (118 comments)

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  •  There is no requirement (13+ / 0-)

    ethically or legally to even mention which open-source code they have used.

    That code is their for the RNC to go and find. Why should we tell them where to look?

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 12:18:00 AM PST

    •  Depends on what they used and how it was licensed. (4+ / 0-)
      •  that's the whole point of open source, though (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sophie Amrain, twigg, wbr

        it's there to be played with.  no registrations, licenses and what not required.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 06:11:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Open Source (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quill, worldlotus, kyril

          I don't think you understand what open source means.
          Open Source is not the same as public domain. You can start by reading this - http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        •  No (5+ / 0-)

          As others have noted, it depends upon the license used in what they started with.

          If what they used is licensed under the BSD or MIT licenses, or something equivalent, then indeed there is no obligation to release any derivative work.  If it's licensed under the GPL or similar (often referred to as "copyleft", however, they do have a legal obligation to release it if they distribute it at all.

          Free software/open source (FOSS) licensing may not be as complex as commercial licensing, but it's far from trivial.  And there are licensing incompatibilities which make it impossible to combine certain things.

          •  Yes, that is my understanding (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, Ninepatch

            that if any software is developed using open source tools, the source code is only required to be released if the software is distributed.  Otherwise it can remain proprietary.  And the distinction between BSD/MIT and GPL licensing complicates it all.

            The question here is whether use of the software by related entities such as the DNC constitutes distribution.

            I believe it to be unwise to allow the GOP to get even a whiff of the source.

            It seems to me the expense of keeping a small development team in place to maintain and update the code is small compared to a large scale crash program near the election.

            Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. By the morning of 9/12/2001 the people of NYC had won the War on Terror.

            by triplepoint on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 01:16:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope (0+ / 0-)
              that if any software is developed using open source tools, the source code is only required to be released if the software is distributed.  Otherwise it can remain proprietary.  And the distinction between BSD/MIT and GPL licensing complicates it all.
              First caution: IANAL.  This isn't legal advice.  Talk to a lawyer if you really want to know what you can or can't do in a given situation.  This is my understanding of the situation.  But I've been involved with FOSS for the better part of 30 years now...

              "Developed using open source tools" has nothing to do with it.  There's plenty of proprietary software written using GNU Emacs as a text editor or gcc as the compiler, and it's perfectly legal.  The issue is just like any other copyright: if a work containing elements from multiple sources are combined, all copyright holders must agree to its distribution.

              If parts of the work are licensed under the GPL -- which can include directly embedded source code, or libraries licensed under the GPL (many libraries are licensed under the LGPL, which has different rules), then the entire work can only be distributed in a way that satisfies the GPL.  Otherwise, the holder of the copyright of the GPL-licensed work hasn't given permission for the distribution.  And there might actually be multiple holders of said copyright.

              I believe Richard Stallman has said that he does not consider distribution within a company or similar to be "distribution" for the purposes of the GPL, but that only applies to works where he has a say in the copyright distribution (I don't remember whether the GPL itself speaks to this, in which case anything using the GPL would be so covered).  But copyright in general does hold even for copying within a company (look at how many companies get in trouble for not having the right number of licenses for their proprietary software).

              If this software package does not include any outside copyleft or proprietary licensed software, then yes, the owner can make a unilateral decision.

    •  yes, there may be a requirement (4+ / 0-)

      Depending on the OSS license of the software they used, it maybe illegal for them NOT to share the code for the tools they created. If so, and they refuse to share, then they deserve to be taken to court over this, regardless of the tactical considerations.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:28:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Usually that requirement only kicks in (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quill, kyril, Miggles, Ninepatch, A Citizen

        if the software is sold or distributed.  Stuff developed in-house and not distributed does not fall under the GPL's requirement to distribute the source.

        Economic Left/Right: -7.38
        Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.00
        Two steps to the right of Trotsky.

        by jvance on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 01:18:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miggles

        If I (as an individual or an organization) use GPL-licensed code to write software for my own use, I am not obligated to release the source code for my software.

        For instance, I could use GPL-licensed libraries to build a program to solve a problem for a class, as I actually happen to be doing right now (or, rather, procrastinating). As long as I never distribute the compiled program, I am under absolutely no obligation to release the source (and, in fact, doing so would itself be ethically problematic because it would conflict with my department's plagiarism policy).

        That's still true even if I'm an organization - if we build it in-house and use it in-house, we don't have to release the source. We can even run it on a server that supports everyone in the organization.

        It might become slightly murky if (a) we run it on a server where the public can use it or (b) we let everyone in the organization run a copy on their work machine. It would be particularly questionable if we let them have it on their personal machines. That's something actual lawyers would have to weigh in on.

        But the only time, under copy-left licenses like GPL, that you must release the source is when you distribute the software. That means giving it to people who didn't build it.

        Which, by the way, might be one of the reasons OFA is concerned about letting the DNC use the tools: that's distribution, and that's where the GPL kicks in.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 04:05:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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