[IAEP] Scratch license

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Fri Nov 14 21:12:18 EST 2008

On Sat, Nov 15, 2008 at 11:15 AM, Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com> wrote:

> Scratch forum:
> http://scratch.mit.edu/forums/viewtopic.php?pid=77320#p77320
> From Andres Monroy-Hernandez, Scratch Team at the MIT Media Lab:
> There has been some discussion in the Scratch Team about this. Overall our
> concern is to avoid forks. In general forks are good because bring diversity
> but since Scratch is a tool for beginners we're worried about having
> multiple versions out there. This happened a little bit with Scratch's
> predecessor LOGO, there were a lot of versions, some of them incompatible.
> I am an Ubuntu user and I appreciate the choices I have for every element
> of the OS, but I do spend hours trying to figure out between apt-get and
> aptitute, Compiz vs no compiz, KDE vs Gnome vs Xfce, etc, etc. In some ways,
> Ubuntu has been able to succeed by providing something that works out of the
> box without forcing users to choose.
> I think we are going to change the license of the binary distribution to
> allow for commercial use but we're uncertain about the source. What do you
> think about forking in Scratch?

my response on the scratch forum:

hi Andres,

I'd like to see the widest possible distribution of the current or
up-to-date version of Scratch to the children of the world. This includes
distribution through the OLPC and Sugar (which are no longer the same thing
and Sugar is now being ported to various platforms). From my understanding
this will not happen if you keep the new non commercial license since some
Linux distributions will not include Scratch under that  license. Ironic
voice: The Scratch team has forked Scratch by changing the license.

I don't follow why Scratch is special because it is for beginners.

It also seems to me that FLOSS has a far bigger and more influential
footprint now than when Seymour Papert / LCSI went commercial with
LogoWriter / MicroWorlds and you need to take that into consideration.
Thanks, of course, to the hard work of FLOSS advocates

Tom Hoffman provided some good advice on the IAEP forum about Trademarks

Comparison with LOGO: Well, the versions of LOGO that are going out on OLPC
/ Sugar are Turtle Art (cut down, developed by Brian Silverman) and Brian
Harvey's logo (powerful but non intuitive user interface last time I saw
it). It's the Open Source versions which will go out to the poorest children
of the world. In that sense it's very fortunate that there were forks in
logo, that the commercial versions were not the only ones.

I love logo and used it for over a decade as a school teacher, mainly
LogoWriter, then MicroWorlds, ie. commercial versions. Eventually I stopped
using Logo because it wasn't free and another free  (but not open source)
alternative came along (Game Maker) which had a great UI and a lot of appeal
for many students (but not as good in terms of its deep educational
philosophy). But now I have stopped using GameMaker, partly because it went
commercial, and now use Scratch (which I see as a version of Logo and has
the best UI yet) as my main introduction to visual programming for students.
Teachers will chop and change like I have. In general they are committed to
easy to use software and are not tuned in to complex legal arguments about
licensing and its implications.

However, as a teacher I would like to be able to use the latest version of
Scratch in Australia and use the same version if I decided to travel to a
developing country to work on the OLPC project. Another hypothetical: It
would also be great if African kids in refugee camps working with XO's were
working on the latest version of Scratch before they came to Australia.

More and more people, teachers and youth, are using Open Source and
understanding the politics of Open Source more. By changing the license as
you have you diminish the enthusiasm of some of those people for Scratch.
People chose software for a variety of reasons. The perception of support
for freedom being one of those reasons.
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