OSI to defend open source definition aggressively

Summary:This flagrant abuse of labeling is not unlike sweetening a mild abrasive with ethylene glycol and calling the substance Toothpaste.

Michael Tiemann by Joi Ito
My recent story on open source CRM drew few public comments, but today it drew something more important, the attention of OSI President Michael Tiemann of RedHat. (Photo by Joi Ito.)

In a piece published at the group's own blog, he asserts that none of the companies I mentioned are in fact open source, because their licenses don't conform to OSI definitions. I knew that, and so I tried to play it a bit cagey:

Then there’s open source, the only way in which CRM start-ups can elbow their way into the market today. SugarCRM, SplendidCRM and now Centric have proven there’s a place in the market for this (if you read your license carefully).

This was too cagey for Mr. Tiemann, who (sort of) ripped me a new one:

It is logical precisely because there really is not room in the market for Yet Another Proprietary CRM system. It is fallacious because THESE LICENSES ARE NOT OPEN SOURCE LICENSES. This flagrant abuse of labeling is not unlike sweetening a mild abrasive with ethylene glycol and calling the substance Toothpaste.

There's good news here. Mr. Tiemann promised that the OSI would police its definitions more closely, and more loudly, from now on. There's also snark here. One commenter quickly noted that RedHat sells SugarCRM.

The question is, should we throw those the OSI deems malefactors off my open source beat?[poll id=44]

Topics: Open Source

About

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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