The Power To Act Against The Community’s Interests

This week it emerged that somehow an error had found its way into the MySQL build system which had changed the licenses on the manual pages from GPL to a restrictive proprietary license. It took some two months before the issue was discovered. Oracle have reversed that change now, so the panic mode has passed. The incident definitely served as a timely reminder though, waking up the open source community once again to the care and attention needed when considering the use of “contributor agreements”.

While they’ve promised that they’re not going to do any such thing, Oracle could potentially change the MySQL license at any moment. Contributors needn’t be party to that decision as they sign away any copyright interests they have in the project when they sign the contributor agreement. For those starting new projects though, this incident highlights one of the reasons contributor agreements can detract from the health of a project. There are other alternatives that should be considered.

In this week’s InfoWorld article Simon takes a look at contributor agreements, commenting on the practices of duel licensing and copyright aggregation along the way. What is the best way to make sure that your community flourishes?

Getting Out of PRISM

The revelations about U.S. intelligence activities over the past week have been a wake up call to us all. The implications of big brother’s ever searching gaze are far reaching and require immediate consideration, especially given the ongoing growth of cloud computing.

One website is usefully collating details of software systems that reduce the risk of your communications being intercepted. Looking through some of the software presented on “PRISM break” helps to visualise the extent to which the existence of PRISM compromises your internet privacy. Having seen the wide range of solutions they suggest, perhaps you’ll want to overhaul your cloud service use completely, or perhaps you’ll settle for smaller changes, like installing the HTTPS everywhere browser plug-in.

Whatever you decide, there are lots of options out there. So be encouraged, we are not helpless when it comes to protecting our safety and privacy online. Together with the open source community we do not need to give in to the big brother states and corporations of this world. Read more in this week’s InfoWorld article.