Feeds

Winners and losers in Sun's OpenDS spat

Not sticking it to the man

Boost IT visibility and business value

The brouhaha (here and here) surrounding Sun Microsystems and ex-employee Neil Wilson over governance of the OpenDS project - first reported in The Register - continued to bubble this week, not least among Reg Dev's readers.

Many of you took the harsh, but arguably fair, point of view that Sun was in the right as work done during the employer's time belongs to, guess who, the employer. Others adopted the slightly provocative stance that open source developers are "chumps" because what they are really doing is unpaid open source development for companies like Sun that have the money to pay.

"Open source and for-profit companies have got an irreconcilable conflict of interests - you just end up as an unpaid proxy working for The Man who makes a profit from your efforts," according to one reader.

So is everyone getting ripped off here? What is the legal position, and who wins?

The goal of OpenDS is to build a free, open-source directory service. Wilson, who helped found OpenDS, claimed he and four other laid-off Sun employees who were also project committers were threatened by Sun into relinquishing governance of the project.

Sun claimed a change in governance of OpenDS had been improperly made months earlier, and that if left in place, would leave Sun, the project sponsor, with no say.

Both sides are throwing around a lot of terms, like "owner" and "copyright." We ran this past a couple of experts to define terms.

Bruce Perens, one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), primary author of the Open Source Definition and a project lead for the Debian GNU/Linux, told Reg Dev that an open-source project's "owners" are the copyright holders. "If the developers are applying another sense of the term to the project, they are probably confused.

"They don't teach very much about copyright and business law in engineering school, so a lot of programmers are confused about it. If the developers brought the project to Sun from outside - if they were hired after they were already working on it or if they initiated it on their own time - they own some portion of it, or the whole thing. If they initiated it at Sun, and did the work on Sun's time, it would belong to Sun.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.