"Recently I moderated a panel discussion on software reuse in
which we all agreed that open source projects are major providers
of reusable software. But one of the panelists, Flashline's CEO
Charles Stack, said something that surprised the rest of us: This
reuse is often a one-way street. Flashline sells a repository-based
software asset management system. He told us that his customers
indeed manage lots of open source assets in that repository. What
they don't do, though, is share their modifications to the code.
Almost without exception, he said, they fork the code to jumpstart
internal development, never joining or participating in the
projects whose code they've taken.
"In the age of Web services, licenses such as the GPL (GNU
General Public License) find themselves poorly equipped to address
this issue, for a reason that Tim O'Reilly pointed out several
years ago. These licenses tie the sharing of modifications to the
distribution of code, but services change the rules of the