Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is Medsphere taking it back?

Dana Blankenhorn recently wrote the following article called, "Is Medsphere taking it back?" In the article, he says the following:


Success in open source depends heavily on community contributions. Medsphere’s board probably feels it was a Little Red Hen, doing all the work for a lazy community’s profit. There is also something to be said for the high sales costs of hospital IT, a cost that has to be recouped somewhere. If you feel the community is taking your work and undercutting your commercial endeavors, you can’t run a business.

The statement "doing all the work for a lazy community's profit" is misplaced. Attacking a community that has provided so much is clearly a troublesome trend. Furthermore, how could the community "profit" from something that was not yet released? The statement "If you feel the community is taking your work and undercutting your commercial endeavors" is also misplaced. There was not a single production user of the code that was released by Medsphere in June 2006 -- certainly from the community and not even Medsphere itself. It was new code that was released!

To add to the irony, on the exact day that Medsphere's open source software release was announced, Dana Blankenhorn published an interview that he had done with Larry Augustin. As you know, Larry Augustin is a Board Member and the former CEO of Medsphere. The title of the article was "Augustin still believes in open source values" and the subtitle was "To get, first give". The link is:


Businesses get the most protection from the GPL, he insisted. "They get protection from competition." The license’s insistance on reciprocity means no one can take the code you wrote, tweak it, then compete with you.

Now, this presents a serious problem. How can someone argue insistently and passionately that "businesses get the most protection from the GPL" while concurrently filing a $50 million dollar lawsuit against his own company for releasing code under the very GPL license that he is espousing? It simply doesn't add up.

These are troubling indicators that underscore the importance of resolving this situation before it ripples further throughout the broader open source community.

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