Extending freedom to software services

I was wondering how I was going to explain the importance of the Franklin Street Statement on Freedom and Network Services? , from Autonomo.us, a group of political hackers close to the free software movements, which includes people like Benjamin Mako Hill.

But luckily, Glyn Moody has done the work for me:

There is a paradox at the heart of the increasingly-trendy cloud computing. It is almost axiomatic that cloud computing services use free software for their infrastructure: the costs involved with proprietary software mean that the business model simply does not scale, unless Microsoft starts offering a special fixed rate for cloud computing setups (something that seems inevitable if it wants to stay in the game).

And yet despite this preponderance of open source running the backend, such cloud computing services do not generally make changes to that code available, because providing a service is not deemed to trigger the usual distribution clause of free software. This means that cloud computing providers are in danger of turning into free riders, taking advantage of free software without giving back in the traditional way.

As a result, a number of people have been examining how the free software and open source definitions might be generalised to cloud computing.”

So there you have it, when software becomes a distributed service, the traditional free software guarantees of the General Public License are no longer sufficient.

And the Franklin Statement sets the conditions to which such a new open software service licence should obey, that’s a very important step.

My only problem now, as non-expert, is that there seems to be an ongoing proliferation not only of licenses, but of definitions.

What for example is the relation between the Franklin Statement and the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Software Service Definition ?

Any expert commentary on the differences between the various initiatives would be very welcome!

I’ve been keeping track of Open Definitions in our Standards pages.

Here’s what we have so far:

1. The Open Standards Definition. By Bruce Perens.
2. Open Standards Requirement for Software
3. Free Content Definition
4. Open Knowledge Definition ; Declaration on Libre Knowledge
5. The Open Software Service Definition, i.e. The Free/Open Service Definition (v1.0)
6. Franklin Street Statement on Freedom and Network Services, which concerns Network Service Licenses


1. Definition of Free Cultural Works
2. Open Source Media Definition


1. Open Source Definition
2. Debian’s Free Software Guidelines

1 Comment Extending freedom to software services

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