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The GPL Barter Cycle - A Graphic

Jan 05, 2010, 23:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Pamela Jones)

"That captures it, don't you think?

"Some imagine that it's unthinkable to, as they view it, give away valuable IP for nothing. But, first, it's not giving it away, and second, it's not for nothing. Nor does pooling your code put you out of business. The diagram shows a barter process. This is the key word, because such contributions of code are compensated, but the consideration is not money. It is code. You give a little code, and you get back a lot more.

"When people receive back a complete Linux, they have the source code. It lets them make changes and adjustments to suit their purposes more exactly, and then they can contribute those modifications back to the project and all the contributions are then able to be integrated into the project. This ball keeps rolling, and getting bigger, and Linux keeps improving. People contribute because they want Linux to be available and to improve.

"There's a fairness to it, which is why it is the most popular FOSS license. And there is a purpose, to make a large body of code available that anyone can improve and enjoy. People build businesses around Linux. Google did. Amazon too. It's great for startups, as Mark Shuttleworth has explained. He built a profitable business, Thawte, using FOSS code. He was asked in an interview about the impact of FOSS:"

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