One of the architects of Tent (and a big fan, early backer, and friend of Diaspora) here.
In any discussion about Tent and Diaspora it’s important to note that they’re very different things. Tent is just a protocol, while Diaspora is both a protocol and a specific piece of software. Anyone can write a Tent server in the language of their choice from scratch and it will be 100% compatible with every other Tent server out of the box (like email and the web).
As far as intellectual property protection goes, there are three things in play:
the Tent trademark (like Wifi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Alliance) which we do enforce to make sure everyone plays fair like letting users change hosting providers, etc. Since we’re a protocol this is the only mechanism we have to enforce compliance. Anyone is free to take our work (software and protocol spec) and change it, but if they don’t follow the spec, they can’t call it Tent™.
The Tent specification: This is literally just the document that describes the way Tent servers and apps talk to each other. We use the same copyright notice that’s on the HTTP spec (and most IETF docs). Basically says please translate and share, but we’re in charge of the canonical version.
Finally there’s the software that powers Tent. Again, Tent is a protocol so there’s no “official” Tent software. Tent is made up of both apps and servers. We produce reference implementation of both (https://github.com/tent and https://github.com/cupcake) and most of the software we product is MIT or BSD licensed. Many other developers have written Tent apps of their own, some of which are open, many are closed source, and of course they retain their own copyrights.
So as far as IP goes, we’re as open as can be.
We’ve always hoped long term that Tent could unite many of the open source, distributed social web projects, including and especially Diaspora, which is particularly close to our hearts (without Diaspora there probably wouldn’t be a Tent). We’ve talked with both Maxwell and Sean at length over the past couple years looking for the best way to do this. In Tent terms, everything is either an app or a server. It would be fairly simple to turn the Diaspora UI into a Tent app (and we’ll do a port in the future if the D* community doesn’t on their own). It’s also very easy to build an importer for old D* user data thanks to D*'s data portability/export and Tent’s data model. The only question then is servers.
The Tent core team also runs Cupcake (https://cupcake.io), a freemium Tent hosting service. We’d be happy to accommodate the entire D* community there. Of course part of what makes D* (and Tent) great is decentralization. Historically the Tent reference server was single-user. With our upcoming 0.4 release we’ll be releasing a version of the scalable multi-tenant server we use at Cupcake as open source. That server software could easily power the entire Diaspora community, but also makes it easy to host a Tent server for many users, so it would be easy for pod admins to switch out. We would of course be delighted to support the D* community in making that move if that’s a decision you arrive at in the future.
In the meantime we’re always available to answer any questions you have about Tent and have always considered ourselves part of the Diaspora extended family. (We take community outreach pretty seriously and have office hours monthly, recordings of past events are here https://tent.io/officehours. We’d be very happy to answer and Diaspora-specific questions about Tent in next week’s broadcast, just shoot us an email email@example.com)