[consult] Call for Community Consultation - Software Repository

Robert E. Seastrom rs at seastrom.com
Thu Jan 17 16:26:44 EST 2008

<michael.dillon at bt.com> writes:

>> > ARIN should be neutral as to license or indeed whether there is any 
>> > license at all. ...
>> Concur.  ARIN should be liberal in what it accepts.
> Just how does liberal ARIN distribute commercial software on its
> server without running afoul of the law? Sell it, I suppose. Or
> maybe sign some kind of distribution agreement. Do we really want
> to go there? 

The same way that it accepts open-source and public-domain software:
the person who submits the software for inclusion on ARIN's server has
to have the legal right to offer it up to be placed there.  In the
case of open source software, this is pretty straightforward; the
license grants you the right to redistribute.  In the case of
commercial software, a representative of the software author who has
apparent authority to make such policy decisions (read: VP or C*O type
title if a corporation) could very easily decide to put the previous
version of the software or a cripple/nag/share-ware version up with
ARIN and still maintain their ability to make money on the current or
full featured version.

> That leaves open-source and public domain. The Open Source Initiative
> has done all the heavy lifting on figuring out which licenses are
> Open Source and which are not.

Open Source is a marketing term that means you get the source code
with the software as well as certain rights (often quite restrictive!)
as to what you can do with said software or derivative works.

Inasmuch as I suggested this as a way to have a "one-stop shop" for
software that deals with ARIN datasets, I see no reason to push a
political agenda regarding what whether source or particular rights
are conveyed with the software or not.  Of course, putting up software
that has no RTU for the downloader associated it whatsoever would be a
pretty meaningless gesture.

> If ARIN takes the trouble to make sure that each so-called "open
> source" package is actually using a license approved by OSI, that
> makes the repository more useful.

No, it does not, it excludes commercial software, making the archive
less complete and thus less useful.

> Most of the potential users of such software work in companies
> whose legal staff are interested in making sure that employees
> only use software which they are properly licenced to use.


> OSI approved licences fit the bill for internal use, and for
> incorporating into products, the GPL versions are OK too as long as
> the employees understand that there are obligations under those
> licenses.

But that's not the point here.

> And then we come to public domain software. This is a legal term which
> refers to software with no copyright, but in order to have this 
> status there needs to be a specific disclaimer of copyright.

My understanding is that in the US, no specific disclaimer or
registration is necessary for a work to be in the public domain,
although the Computer Software Rental Amendments Act of 1990 (Public
Law 101-650, 104 Stat. 5089 (1990)) has a provision for registering
such software with the LoC in order to make one's intent crystal clear.

> I think that ARIN should steer clear of distributing any commercial
> software, not even shareware. It would be OK to keep a registry
> of such software that points to other sites which distribute it,
> but that is all.

Obviously we disagre here.

> I think that, in addition to checking for OSI-approved licenses
> and posting diffs on Open Source software, ARIN should also
> check for a copyright disclaimer on any so-called public domain
> software.
> If any package falls through the cracks and does not have
> an approved OSI license or copyright disclaimer, then it
> should not be distributed, only listed in the registry of
> packages.

I am against having ARIN push a political agenda outside of its
charter (stewardship of Internet number resources), particularly one
that is biased against commercial software.

> Most importantly, is that ARIN has to add some value, not just
> be an open FTP site.

The value is in providing one-stop shopping for software that does
stuff with ARIN resources.  It is a service to the members (software
consumers, by and large, not software publishers or developers).


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