RISC OS Open licence in hands of lawyersPublished: 14th Jan 2007, 00:38:17 | Permalink | Printable
Ballance mulls Iyonix successorThe shared source licence being drawn up as part of the RISC OS Open project is in the hands of lawyers, it was revealed this week.
In a report to be published by Archive magazine, Castle are said to have spent a 'lot of money' on legal bills to make the licence watertight. The company fears loopholes may be found in their complex shared source agreement which could allow royalty free use of the source code for commercial purposes or let people avoid disclosing updates to the RISC OS blueprints.
In August last year, Castle revealed its plans to open up the source code to RISC OS 5, allowing third party programmers and firms to contribute to the development of the OS.
Magazine editor Paul Beverley has firmly backed the initiative after he met with Castle bosses Jack Lillingston and John Ballance during the week to discuss the progress of the ROOL project. RISC OS Open recently relaunched its website in preparation of the release of the first batch of RISC OS 5 source code, and is set to meet users at a meeting in London on Monday.
A source close to Archive said: "Paul got a better idea of what's going on. I think he thought they'd more or less given up and were just milking what was left of the Iyonix market and not really looking to the future, but it seems they are spending a lot of solicitor money trying to get the terms of the new open source licence as tight as possible.
"It will pull the rug from under RISCOS Ltd because they are going to make in due course enough of RISC OS available at a few pence per unit for people to build an Iyonix with it.
"And John revealed that they were still very much thinking towards a computer to follow on from the Iyonix, and also a separate very interesting project, so they are still in it for the long haul."
In an editorial leaked to drobe.co.uk ahead of publication next week, editor Paul Beverley confirmed it was Castle's intention to release as much of the RISC OS 5 source as possible to allow people, from punters to commercial outfits, to build their own computers to run it. Updates to the software have to be made public, allowing Castle to improve their source code and boost their intellectual property. According to Paul, CTL are trying to woo contracts with Far Eastern firms.
The low royalty cost per unit for commercial use of the RISC OS 5 source is expected to price RISCOS Ltd out of the market as it's believed ROL demands considerably higher royalties per copy of RISC OS 4 shipped. ROL have in the past said that open sourcing the OS will not be the single saviour of RISC OS because investment is needed to sustain useful development - the RISC OS Open team are working voluntarily in their spare time, for instance. It's also assumed that the operating system will continue along its two separate streams of development.
In his monthly column, Paul wrote: "I was entertained right royally by Messrs Lillingston and Ballance while we discussed the future of RISC OS, a future which is clearly an Open one.
"The open source licence (still with the lawyers after many months of careful drafting, but soon to be made available) under which RISC OS is made available either free or for pence per unit is not like the GPL one. Rather, as third parties improve RISC OS, they are obliged by the licence to publish details of those improvements and they then become part of RISC OS, i.e. they are then owned by Castle - i.e. it increases their pool of intellectual property.
"So Castle's aim is, above all, to ensure that RISC OS is used, and therefore improved, and therefore becomes more valuable and more effective - which is to everyone's advantage."
ROOL's Steve Revill and Castle's Jack Lillingston are due to appear before users in London on Monday night.
A ROUGOL organiser said: "Steve will be able to show how the new RISC OS Open website works, including the framework for managing the shared source project, and the bug tracking facilities. There may possibly also be a chance to look at the first batches of RISC OS source code released."
The event is set to take place from 7.45pm on January 15 at the Blue-eyed Maid, Borough High Street, London, SE1 1HR. RISC OS Open was voted top in the 'best ingenious idea' category in the Drobe 2006 awards.
RISC OS Open website
Archive magazine website - first two issues for free for new readers
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