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Chris Holt [opinions]

Santa Claus - the most successful open source project [giving] [charity] [christmas] [santa-claus]

It dawned on me the other day, as I was shopping for the dozens of gifts it seems I have to buy every December (this year, I bought myself a holiday accommodation in Denmark, WA!), that Santa Claus is the most successful open source project in history. (Bridget @ Illiterarty would agree with that). Santa Claus is essentially a marketing development that is embodied by everyone who stuffs a sock, gives a gift, hosts a dinner or wishes Merry Christmas over the holiday season. After all, we all embody Santa Claus, assume that spirit, especially when we’re writing “from Santa” on the gift tags attached to our children’s gifts. The source code for this program is the Christmas Spirit and it supports a huge volunteer effort to continue the Santa Claus gift giving tradition. How could we not be giving gifts at Christmas? (Homelessness, poverty and other religions notwithstanding.) Probably close to a billion people are involved in the development of the Santa Claus free software project.

The following are my interpretations of the Santa Claus license.

  1. Free Redistribution of the Santa Claus Program.

The license to give Christmas gifts shall not restrict any party (like Walmart, Apple, or Nike) from selling gifts to others to give away the said items as a component of an aggregate distribution containing single gifts (dad’s tie) or many gifts (to the kids) from a single source (me) or several different sources (the cousins).

  1. Christmas Spirit Source Code (SOC)

The program must include source code hereby referred to as SOC (Spirit of Christmas), and must allow distribution of source code as well as its compiled form called Santa Claus. Where some form of a product is not distributed with the source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code, potentially via films such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart, for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost—preferably, downloading via the television in the week before Christmas. The source code must be the preferred form in which any giver would modify the program, by acting as Santa Claus either at the local mall or in stuffing the children’s stockings on Christmas Eve, or handing out hot meals to the homeless on Christmas Eve. Deliberately obfuscated source code through expectations of some return gift, is not allowed.

  1. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, such as Charitable Giving, Volunteerism and Kindness; and include using the Santa Claus image in performances, films, advertising and promotion and must allow them to be distributed to merchandisers and all consumers under the same terms as the license of the original Spirit of Christmas source code.

  1. Integrity of The Author’s Source Code

The SOC license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form such as re-gifting and gift stealing only if the license allows the distribution of “patch files” called gift exchange games with the source code. The license must explicitly permit distribution of derived works carrying a different name such as Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, Jolly Old Elf, Santa Klaus, Hagios Nikolaos, or Babbo Natale.

  1. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons, as all persons are capable of running the Santa Claus program in any of its derived forms.

  1. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business like a shopping mall, or orphanage, foster home, family home, homeless shelter, hospital or any place people congregate.

  1. Distribution of License

The rights to give gifts must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of any additional licenses by those parties. Such licenses would be considered Grinch licenses.

  1. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program’s being part of a particular application ie a gift, like Apple iPods or Nike shoes, Coca-Cola or Walt Disney.

  1. License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, reindeer, elves and the Salvation Army are associated supporting technologies that may or may not be proprietary and the SOC license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

  1. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface. Though the best style is running the program with a smile.

So with that in mind, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. :)


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