Ryzom is free as in freedom software

Ryzom is a Massive Multyplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), a beautiful one, with a very big universe and a lot of users. With the help of FSF, Winch Gate Properties, the copyright holders of Ryzom, released the server and the client under the Affero GPLv3 (Fabrizio is right, it’s a good license for modern networked world) and now Ryzom is free, as in freedom. Not free as in beer. As Peter Brown said in FSF’s announcement

If you want to run your own server for the game, you have the software to do that, but you won’t really have any world data—information about geography, special places, characters, quests, items, and so on—to run it with.

It makes perfect sense to sell access to such data, not software licenses. All gaming companies should learn from this. Meanwhile, have a look at the Ryzom videos and if you’re a fan, start playing.


Ryzom Teaser 10 from Ryzom on Vimeo.

Affero GPL is freedom to the web

Savio questions the usefulness of AGPL and his argument seems very slippery to me. He questions whether the Affero GPL is an obstacle to the development of more free/libre open source software.’  He uses Facebook as an example company that is contributing back modifications to memcached, software that FB uses after having it heavily modified even if it is licensed under the very permissive BSD license. Do we need copyleft licenses, when self interest of the companies makes them contribute back just the same?

I believe the question is tricky because it confuses the scope of copyleft with that of companies. Many people make the same mistake: copyleft is a tool designed to spread freedom in software, at any cost with all tools at our disposal. The FSF, which wrote the GNU and Affero licenses, has the goal to make all software free as in freedom. Companies are ‘free’ to join the revolution, or to look somewhere else for their needs.’  The GNU project existed and survived long before it was mainstream (it started 25 years ago); the whole free software movement has now become too big to kill. The movement counts on good will and self interests of people and also of companies for the contributions, that’s for sure. But the same movement is well aware that sometimes good will doesn’t last for long. Stallman saw it happen during the 80s. We are seeing it happening again, at each downturn of the economy. Who was around when SourceForge turned its software proprietary? I was around and I remember the delusion.

There is no question in my mind that freedom must be fought for and defended with all means available.’  We have copyright laws and we use it.’  The GNU system and copyleft is mainstream on personal computers and servers. Now, with the Affero GPL it’s time to take freedom to the web.

PS don’t forget to donate to FSF. Do it now!

Facebook shows self-interest may trump licensing |Open Sources | Rodrigues & Urlocker | InfoWorld.

Moodle ripped off, should switch to Affero GPLv3

Roberto reports about the Lazio e-Citizen project chose Moodle to deliver courses to educate elderly citizens (age 60 and more) to use computers and Internet, but they don’t say that openly.’  I found it offensive, that AICA and all the other groups involved in the project failed not only to give credit to the Moodle project, but they also created artificial requirements for the solution’  making it look like the training lessons need Windows 2000 or later versions and for the browser: Internet Explorer 6.0 or superior.’  Goodbye browser interoperability, farewell Moodle’s effort to be platform independent.

It’s annoying to realize that Moodle was exploited so radically, it feels like a rip off. To give credit to the developers of the Free Software you use to deliver your services is the least you can and should do.’  You should also contribute back your changes and learn to be a good citizen in the digital world, where freedom must be preserved.’  I think the Affero GPLv3 is a better license for Moodle and other web based software as the best way to protect their asset from such rip off. Funambol wisely chose it immediately and more projects are using it, too.’  Credibility and reputation are between the most important assets for Free Software developers and they should be guarded properly.

Probably, even if Moodle used the AGPLv3, it may have not prevented the Lazio eCitizen project from hiding it under the hood but at least it may have forced them to release back their changes. I suspect we will see more of these misguided/misinformed uses of Free Software in the future. We should get the best legal protection and get ready to educate people to behave correctly.

Give the GNU GPL an ‘A’, as in Affero

The GNU Affero General Public License v3 is now officially an ‘open source’ license, approved by the Open Source Initiative.

Funambol started the approval process of the best license available to protect copyleft, and business based on it, from predatory practices. Fabrizio (Funambol’s CEO) celebrates the sweet victory on his blog mentioning the ‘strange’ coincidence of Google caring only for GPL. For Google the ASP loophole is the key to their business, while they don’t like the A of Affero.

It’s a good day for all the companies that use the AGPLv3. I found some like Wavemaker, OSSDiscovery, Colosa and I wish Palamida started tracking AGPLv3 adoption too (Update: Blackduck Software already tracks AGPLv3 adoption). Here Funambol’s full press release with quote from Wavemaker’s CEO and Eben Moglen.

Update (thanks to Andi Zink):’  Doug Levin’s post contains more software licensed under AGPL.

Affero GNU GPLv3 evaluated by OSI

As Fabrizio reported, Funambol submitted the Affero GNU’  GPLv3 to the Open Source Initiative for approval (it was my first task as Funambol Community Manager).’  OSI’s stamp on AGPLv3 makes business sense for Funambol, afaik the first big free software project to adopt AGPLv3 as soon as it was announced. Open Source is a recognized brand,’  a magnet for media attention and helps drive value to companies.’  Free software business needs a common brand as a marketing tool and OSI provides that.

I still believe that OSI’s refusal to talk about principles is its biggest weakness (even though lately Raymond noted that there are principles behind licenses) and a very dangerous one.’  On the other hand, OSI has no competition (or help) especially after the failure to launch the GNU Business Network by FSFE.

What’s interesting is that Funambol’s management has got the Free/Libre Software principles right.’  As Fabrizio writes:

Big Google, a company that could not stand the ASP loophole because they built their entire business on it, manages to get that provision out of GPL v3 and runs to get it approved by the OSI (BTW, it was approved).

Now it is the Funambol turn. Hoping more people will choose AGPL versus GPL, because giving hosters and portals a free lunch is just a bad idea. If they want to use it for free, at least get their code back.

The market will give the answer about the AGPLv3 adoption, but I’m confident that this year will be fun to be into this community.

Six months of GPLv3: a chat with Ernest Park of Palamida

Six months ago Free Software Foundation released the third version of the most widely adopted free software license, the GNU GPL version 3. To track adoption of the new license, Palamida started a project with the aim

to build a unified view of the status of GPLv3 and LGPLv3 adoption and usage across the community.

I have exchanged a few questions with Ernest Park, VP, R&D GRoup of Palamida.

Stefano Maffulli: Why did you start tracking GPLv3 adoption?

gpl3.palamida.com: We started tracking GPL v3 adoption because is was one of the top questions we kept getting from customers and prospects. We found that customers were coming to us with “We’ve heard this….One of our attorneys heard at a conference that….” And the feedback literally ranged from 0% to 100% adoption. Since we track 884,000 (and growing daily) open source project versions on an ongoing basis, we thought who best to know what projects are doing en masse and when? There seemed to be enough FUD on both the pro and con side of the license, that we thought it would be valuable to publish data that tried to be as neutral as possible – no judgment about the license, no axe to grind on the merits of copyleft, etc. We wanted to let the market speak for itself – by showing GPL 3 adoption rate.

SM: Did FSF ask you to do it?

gpl3.palamida.com: FSF did not ask us to do this. At this point, I would be flattered if they recognized the efforts of our team to provide objective an unbiased, reliable information regarding adoption of specific open source licenses over time. This research project was internally originated and sponsored.

SM: What results do you expect from gplv3.palamida.com?

gpl3.palamida.com: We didn’t know what to expect from the site. Palamida is a proprietary software company who uses open source products in our software (see the IP Ingredients list for our IP Amplifier product on our web site). This was the first time we shared information from our database to companies outside of our customer base. We know that our customers find the information incredibly valuable, and we’ve been extremely happy to hear from others that they find the information useful. Palamida is constantly trying to figure out ways to give back to the broader community is this seemed like a no-brainer for us.We enjoy being participants in the open source community through projects like this, so even this is an educational experience for us – to be on the side of the originator of licensed works.

SM: Will youtrack Affero GPLv3 adoption too, besides GPL and LGPL?

gpl3.palamida.com: The honest answer is that we don’t know. We would only do it if we got a lot of interest from both our customers and the broader community. If it seems like valuable information to a broad spectrum of people, we wouldn’t hesitate. But to be honest, I cannot recall one request for it. But will look into it to see what kind of interest there is. We do track a significant amount of information beyond what is listed on the site. Our goal is to keep our site topical and relevant to what people are interested in regarding OSS and its licensing. Let me know what you think.

Ernest maintains a blog where comments, advice and opinions are always welcome.

UPDATE: read Ernest’s post GPLv3 – The Year in Review