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From Alexei Kosut <ako...@leland.Stanford.EDU>
Subject Re: incorporating? (was: Copyright & donating code)
Date Sun, 24 Jan 1999 23:01:13 GMT
On Sun, 24 Jan 1999 wrote:

> >> Correct. It isn't right, but that's the way you started out. FREE.
> Now all of a sudden you are faced with protecting the brand. Windows is
> a brand and look what Microsoft does to protect it. Do you know what it
> costs to protect a brand especially one as well recognized as Apache?
> The letter writing alone will drive you nuts. Delegate it…….sure but
> then you are no longer in charge.  That's why you don't let suits near a
> compiler. 

I'm not speaking for the Apache Group in any capacity here, but I have to
ask you one question: Are you nuts? Freedom has nothing to do with price, 
brand protection, or other non-source legal and financial issues. Even the
GPL specifically asserts the right of the original author to retain the
name of a project and control its use (section 2 paragraph 1a and other

I find it highly humorous that you are presuming that an incorporated
Apache Group would be controlled by "suits". Incorporation is simply an
act needed to obtain a legal entity. If I didn't think that the day-to-day
operations and management of the Apache Group, and specifically the Apache
HTTP Server Project, were going to change in any significant way, I would
have left this group a long time ago.

> >> This dovetails nicely into 1. above. You now have to define the "barrier's
> to entry". Just as the mantra with the telco's is "protect the switch", yours
> will be "protect the Apache brand". You do this with strong copyright notices,
> patents, and trademarks. Now how do people "value add to the brand" that you
> built? and do they share in the success in a monetary fashion, or "for just a
> good feeling?". These are all "branching statements" that require much thought
> and much debate. Whilst you might be up for the debate, what do you do best,
> CODE or manage a software company?

Given that Apache is free for download, and always will be (read the
license sometime - it's somewhat informative in this respect), the Apache
Group simply cannot become a "software company" in the sense that
Microsoft, et al, is.

> Let me give you an example. I watched the recent update to
> mod_negotiation by the gentleman from CERN. My first question is, "Was a
> vote taken to include this new patch?". I don't believe it was, and from
> the threads it has caused one or two conflicts. Now my second question,
> "Was this patch thoroughly tested before the release of 1.3.4?" Kind of
> rhetorical because if it had of been then Roy and the gentleman from
> CERN would not be in a big debate as to the merits of it's problems. 

Frankly, I find it very demeaning that you would show up, and start
criticizing our methods without taking the time to understand how they work,
and how over the last three years they have made the Apache HTTP Server
the most widely used Web server on the Internet.

If you had even done a little research ( is a good
place to start), you would have learned that your "example" is *exactly*
how the Apache development process works. We learned over a year ago that
the best way to develop our server is to, after initial examination, allow
trusted members of the development community (like Roy) to commit it to
the source tree *without* voting, and let the patches be reviewed, and
possibly revoked, afterwards.

Perhaps it was a mistake to allow Apache 1.3.4 to be released in the state
that it was. But that's a separate question, totally irrelevant, and we
all make mistakes anyway. Even "software companies" do. I can count on one
hand the number of software products I've ever purchased that did not come
with bug-fix revisions within a few months, sometimes to fix serious
problems that one would not have imagined would *ever* pass through the QA
process of a 'real' software company.

> These are in one respect coding/programming problems which you are all
> eminently qualified to answer, however the management question is
> "should the patch even have been included because of the XXX
> statements". What if the management at Apache, Inc., decides to stop the
> process because they want to protect the brand and send you back to the
> compilers, are you ready to be told NO. 

Please explain to me how anything the Apache Group does to the Apache
Group's products can corrupt the Apache brand. I think you're failing to
understand a lot about a great many things.

> >> The Apache Group already has a large measure of respect. You don't
> run 50+% of the world's web servers because you produce bad software.
> The real question is can you really continue to compete in today's
> market place as a loose knit band of great programmers without the
> protection that a corporation can offer? 

Now I'm confused. Are you attacking or encouraging the idea of an
incorporated Apache?

> Do you really want to sit on a board of directors? Are you even
> qualified to sit on a board of directors? If you think this is "nasty"
> question, it's the same as me if I am qualified to be a programmer. Sure
> I could learn but would I never be as good as you guy's, not in a month
> of Sunday's. Board members are core to the success of a company. They
> are comprised of thoughtful, intelligent people from different walks of
> life with a bunch of experience.  They are there to be the conscience of
> the company to help direct it and the CEO. The most important thing to a
> CEO and the Board members is the SHAREHOLDERS. NOTHING and I repeat
> NOTHING else matters. These people take there job's very seriously.
> Which if you think about it for a minute is exactly what you want. You
> really just want to be programmers, let the suits protect the brand.
> Don't tell the suits how to run the company, and don't let them tell you
> how to program, but you must learn to listen to each other. 

Um... if the most important thing to a CEO and Board members is the
shareholders, what the heck do companies without shares or shareholders
do? Like, say, any non-profit or not-for-profit corporation, like the
Apache Group would be.

Frankly, you seem to have little knowledge of the Apache Group, its
operations, its procedures, its members, its products, or any useful
information related to the above. You do not seem to grasp the concept of
a non-profit corporation, that legal entities can exist for the good of a
volunteer organization, or that capitalistic concerns can exist without
making an (again) volunteer organization to create open-source software
into a greed-hungry Microsoft clone.

I suggest you head over to and do some
reading. If that doesn't do it, wander over to and
do some more. I may not agree with everything Eric Raymond or Richard
Stallman say, but I agree with you a lot less. 


P.S. I apologize for the acerbic tone of the above. I plead temporary

-- Alexei Kosut <> <>
   Stanford University, Class of 2001 * Apache <> *

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