Canonical, Ltd. Finally On Record: Seeking Open Core

“I’ve written before about my deep skepticism regarding the true
motives of Canonical, Ltd.’s advocacy and demand of for-profit
corporate copyright assignment without promises to adhere to
copyleft. I’ve often asked Canonical employees, including Jono
Bacon, Amanda Brock, Jane Silber, Mark Shuttleworth himself, and
— in the comments of this very blog post — Matt Asay to
explain (a) why exactly they demand copyright assignment on their
projects, rather than merely having contributors agree to the GNU
GPL formally (like projects such as Linux do), and (b) why, having
received a contributor’s copyright assignment, Canonical, Ltd.
refuses to promise to keep the software copylefted and never
proprietarize it (FSF, for example, has always done the latter in
assignments). When I ask these questions of Canonical, Ltd.
employees, they invariably artfully change the subject.

“I’ve actually been asking these questions for at least a year
and a half, but I really began to get worried earlier this year
when Mark Shuttleworth falsely claimed that “Canonical, Ltd.’s
copyright assignment was no different than the FSF’s copyright
assignment”. That event made it clear to me that there was a job of
salesmanship going on: Canonical, Ltd. was trying to sell something
to community that the community doesn’t want nor need, and trying
to reuse the good name of other people and organizations to do