Bruce Perens, one of the original board members of Software in the Public Interest (SPI) Inc. has asked that organization to consider taking ownership of another project he started, the Sincere Choice initiative. But while SPI considers itself part of the Free Software community, Sincere Choice says it believes that "there should be a fair, competitive market for computer software, both proprietary and Open Source."
According to the minutes of the most recent SPI board meeting, at least one member of the board raised concerns about adopting an initiative friendly to "closed source." Closed source, or proprietary software, keeps its source code a secret, a notion antithetical to the idea of Free Software and Open Source advocates.
"Ian [Jackson] had a problem with the statement 'We support a broad range of
copyright policies, from Public Domain through Open Source and Free
Software to Proprietary' [as written at the Sincere Choice website]: SPI does not support that range but is a
Free Software organisation,'" wrote board member Martin Schulze in the minutes.
"Branden [Robinson] noted that the rest of the statement of principles is
not objectionable," the minutes continue. "Wichert [Akkerman] suggested that someone talk with Bruce
about possibly rewording the statement, and if Bruce agrees to
resume the discussion later. Ian volunteered to take this task."
Sincere Choice is Perens' answer to Microsoft's "Software Choice" initiative, which states that its purpose is "to encourage continued software innovation and promote broad choice."
Software Choice says it is encouraging governments to consider "neutral principles" when selecting software to perform official functions, including "strong intellectual property protections" and software procured on "merits, not through categorical preferences."
Sincere Choice, on the other hand, also asserts that "software vendors should compete fairly on the merit of their products," but adds that they should not attempt to "lock each other's products out of the market."
Perens gave a lecture at Stanford University recently, speaking to electrical engineering and computer science students about Free Software and Open Souce, and to talk about Sincere Choice. Sonia Arrison, the director of the Center for Technology Studies at Pacific Research Institute, was not convinced by Perens' rhetoric.
"Microsoft has market power because it creates products that satisfy technology needs at the right price. If the open source community's products better satisfy those needs at a better price, then it shouldn't be necessary to legislate the use of open source in government departments," she wrote in a column at Tech Central Station. "It also shouldn't be necessary to legislate smaller items like the exact parts of a state's information technology (IT) infrastructure that must remain open, as Perens wants to do."
Perens seems to be moving toward a more proprietary-neutral stance, hinting during his talk that closed-source software isn't going anywhere. "No one will ever make an Open Source version of TurboTax," he said to the students.