[PORK] O-Town takes an O-Step

Tom tomwhore@slack.net
Wed, 19 Mar 2003 21:16:28 -0500 (EST)

Open Source, its still a great idea the idiot primiates cant wrap thier
towels around, so make a wrapper they can deal with?
Maybe. Or is this like being just a little pregnant?

(there is mention here of worperfect in this aricle for gov use. well for
the doi wordperfect has been dropped for MSword (one vendore, one OS, one
desktop sig hi)or at leasst it has been this month)



O-STEP aims to remove open source risk for vendors, customers.

Grant Gross, IDG News Service
Monday, March 17, 2003

WASHINGTON -- A think tank advocating the use of open source software in
government is launching a source-code escrow program that would let
vendors make money on proprietary software while eventually releasing
their products to the open source community. At least one software company
says it may be open to the idea.

The Open Source Threshold Escrow Program would create goodwill for
software vendors trying to sell products to government agencies and large
companies afraid of proprietary vendor lock-in, said Tony Stanco, creator
of the program, known as O-STEP.

Corel, which Stanco used as an example of a perfect fit for the program,
said Monday it might consider O-STEP for its WordPerfect Office suite.
"It's certainly an interesting proposal," a company spokesperson said
after being told of the program.

Stanco explained O-STEP Monday here at a conference, the Open
Standards/Open Source for National and Local eGovernment Programs in the
United States and European Union.

Addressing Fears

Here's how O-STEP would work: A vendor puts a piece of software in escrow
with Stanco's Center of Open Source and Government, based at George
Washington University. The company determines a sales threshold that it
wants to reach before the software is released under an open source
license. After it hits that threshold, the software is released as an open
source product.

Stanco, founding director of the government open source center, is
promoting O-STEP as a balance between current copyright law and
open-source licenses. Copyright gives software vendors
longer-than-lifetime rights to their creations, and open-source licenses
give programmers no period of control over their software.

"Even though open source is creating a lot of software, giving some
incentive, I think, will get more open source software," Stanco said.
"That's the theory, that the incentive structure is important."

Some open source advocates argue that the monetary incentive is not
important for them. Instead, they focus on the reputation they gain from
creating freely distributed software.

The foundation for copyright law is that producers should have monetary
incentives to create, and Stanco notes "that's probably more right than
wrong." Government agencies and large companies are wary of spending
millions of dollars on software only to be locked into using that same
vendor for years, he said. The O-STEP program would enable software to
eventually be released as open source, allowing users to modify the
software if they wish.

Stanco is counting on demand from government agencies, both in the United
States and elsewhere, and from Global 1000 companies, to drive the
program. He hasn't talked to any software companies about O-STEP yet, he
said. The incentive for vendors to participate is the chance to increase
sales to participating agencies and companies, and the opportunity to
establish their products as a "defacto standard" through widespread use,
he said.

"The purchasers are very excited about this," Stanco said. "They don't
want to get locked in after they take the first step. The game is up for a
lot of these proprietary software companies. The government is concerned,
banks are concerned, insurance companies are concerned. You name it,
anybody that has a big infrastructural [purchase] to make in the next few
years, they're very concerned that their first move might be the last one
within their control."