With Software as a Service, Is Only the Network Luddite Free?

A session at OSCON 2009

Wednesday 22nd July, 2009

10:45am to 11:30am (PST)

At OSCON 2008, Tim O’Reilly spoke in his keynote and in a follow-up blog post about the primary challenge now faced by Open Source and Free Software: the network service provider’s Software as a Service (SaaS). As referenced in Tim’s talk, a think-tank group formed in early 2008, called autonomo.us formed to consider how the Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) community should address this concern.

So-called Application Service Providers, who provide SaaS, are now the rule rather than the exception in the software industry. The freedom implications of ubiquitous, high-bandwidth networking and AJAX-based application delivery are not yet fully understood nor adequately addressed by the FLOSS Movement. Even those of us who have been paying attention during SaaS’ rise remain somewhat befuddled by the freedom implications of the new environment.

Our Movement must develop a multi-front response to this proprietary threat that will make the 1980s and 1990s battle against proprietary operating system vendors look easy. The challenge is specifically centered around two complex issues: (a) traditional user-freedom-protecting licenses (i.e., the copyleft) fail to protect the freedoms of SaaS users, and (b) even if users have the source code to the application they are using, they cannot run it themselves and generate the same network-effect available in the canonical instance.

This panel discussion will frame and introduce the key questions introduced by these new issues. We will discuss the Affero GPL, which is one of few FLOSS licenses that address this concern from the software licensing perspective, and explain how our traditional FLOSS solutions cannot succeed as easily in this new network service context, and how developers must use server federation and distributed computing to overcome the new challenges we face.

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Tim O'Reilly

Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media. Watching the alpha geeks, sharing their stories, helping the future unfold. bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Evan Prodromou

Totally committed to major independence. bio from Twitter

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Time 10:45am11:30am PST

Date Wed 22nd July 2009

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  • Open Sources
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