Microsoft's Jason Matusow blogs on open source policy

Summary:When corporate officers blog, a type of Kabuki is taking place. What you're reading is advocacy, marketing and a bit of PR.

When corporate officers blog, a type of Kabuki is taking place.

What you're reading is advocacy, marketing and a bit of PR. What you see may be policy, but the Secretary may also deny any knowledge of the blogger's actions, causing the blog to self-destruct in 15 seconds. You know which when you learn the fate of the blogger.

This is prelude to news that Jason Matusow right, director of Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative has launched a blog.

Matusow, who debated Stanford's Lawrence Lessig in 2003 and came out comparing it to Monty Python's Argument Clinic sketch, is still singing the same song he sang then.

It's about as transparent as a Kabuki in the north Georgia mountains.

Come with me into Matusow's first major blog entry.

What is open?' he asks. After literally thousands of discussions, panels, debates, arguments, commiserations, smoke signals and some lewd sign language, I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.

This may be why Peter Brown prefers the word free to open. Its meaning is not as opaque.

Matusow breaks open source licensing into three categories:

  • Reference. You can look but you better not touch. I call this the Bruce Springsteen license. An example is Matusow's Shared Source license.
  • Permissive. You can look, change, borrow, steal or re-sell. If I call this the Jim Morrison license, will that date me? Plug in the BSD license here.
  • Reciprocal. You do something cool, you gotta give us all a taste. Matusow might like me to call this the Cheech & Chong license, and associate the GPL with it. (Then again, he might not.)

Microsoft generally engages in Springsteen licensing. They are The Boss. But Matusow says Microsoft also accepts licensing diversity. I call this Simon Cowell licensing, because you need a good lawyer to play.

Matusow concludes:

The most important factor to me is that a developer or organization has the freedom to choose what type of license works best for each individual project. In Shared Source, we have 17 offerings, and we use all three types of licensing. Our focus is not on whether or not something meets the OSI definition of open source. The focus is instead on whether or not, for that given technology, the community most interested in working with the source code has the ability to accomplish what it needs to.

Sweet, right? Open, honest, transparent, right? Well, remember where I placed that Kabuki up above. My personal view is behind the link.

What's yours? Please let us know in TalkBack.

Topics: Open Source


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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