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O'Reilly Network: Living Linux: Open Source Beyond Software

Aug 06, 2000, 14:53 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Stutz)

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"Software programs aren't the only thing you can make "open source." This week's column shows you how to apply these principles to any kind of work."

"The term "open source" was first introduced in 1998 as a marketing term for "free software." Some felt that people unfamiliar with free software might confuse it with "freeware," software whose binaries could be copied free of charge. Free software means nothing of the sort, of course; the "free" refers to "freedom," not price. Free software is software published in such a way so that everyone is free to copy it, distribute it, and modify it."

"With proprietary software, these freedoms are strictly prohibited -- in accordance with current copyright law, which was formulated in an age when works were normally set and manipulated in a physical form, not as the non-physical data that computers copy and modify."

"Free software licensing was developed as a way to work around these failings of copyright law: they permit everyone to copy and modify a work -- but under certain strict terms and conditions which ensure that others can't produce proprietary derivatives, take credit for someone else's work, or otherwise exploit these freedoms."

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