Translation review "If software is created with public money, the code must be open"

Published on February 07, 2019

Translation review "If software is created with public money, the code must be open"

I read the translation article “ If software is created with public money, the code must be opened ”, which caused a twofold feeling. On the one hand, the idea seems to be correct, but the article describes several fundamental problems that voluntarily or unwittingly do readers a disservice.

I myself am a supporter of open and free software. But after rejecting a few comments, and therefore not being able to lead discussions in the framework of the original article, I think that it would be correct to write a comment in the form of a separate material.

Multivariance of meanings


Before talking about the terms and their use, it should be clarified that any concept or statement can be viewed from a variety of positions. And not one of the selected positions will not be absolutely true for one and all.

Any term can have many meanings and therefore the meaning of the term that the author or translator originally invested in it may differ from the meaning as perceived by the reader.

For example, if we talk about Open Source , then the following can be put into this term:

  1. Availability of software source codes. i.e. the literal interpretation of the term.
  2. Software license compliance with Open Source Definition criteria
    opensource.org/osd
  3. Availability of source codes as a mandatory property of a free software license ( Free Software ).
  4. ... you can come up with many more uses of the term Open Source , for example, something about the sources of rivers or open sources of publications used in the preparation of manuscripts or historical research, etc.

It seems to me that in the case of the use of a multivariate term, it would be better to point out once again what was put into it so that the reader would not have a distorted understanding of the text.

Contra


I would very much like to clarify with the author of the translation of the publication “ If software is created with public money, the code should be opened ”, what does he himself understand by the terms “public money” and “code should be open”? I promise not to reject comments because of disagreement with his point of view.

After all, I understood from the text of the article that “public money” is kind of like budget money, that is, from the state budget, but this is not the same at all!

I can imagine with interest what will happen if a system has been developed for taxpayers' money, for example, air defense, which includes the software part. And here comes such an activist and declares that since the development was carried out on budget, which means public money, then the software should be open!

Moreover, it may be a seditious thought for some of the free software supporters, but using software with free virus licenses (such as the GPL) when developing such systems will not be a violation of the license.

This is due to the fact that only a legitimate user of such a system can demand the opening of source codes, and a legitimate user in this case will be such-and-such a high frequency , and not an Internet activist.

Pro


As I already wrote, the idea of ​​open and free software is very close to me, only I am not a supporter of the politicization of this issue. Any arguments from the category of "public money" and "must" is all populism.

I believe that to open / not open source, this question is either legal or economic.

Legal - if the software being developed uses components under free licenses and this should be somehow taken into account when distributing a derived software product.

Economical - if the developer believes that in this way he will receive additional buns (he will cut support costs, get good support, audit the source, etc.)

PS


This is my point of view, which does not claim to be absolute truth.