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Linux.com: Gated Communities

Jul 10, 2000, 12:19 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Perens)

"Gated communities" are a non-Open Source form of shared software development. The idea is that developers all enter into a license, and are able to exchange source code modifications with other licensed developers, but not with the general public. Gated communities are in the news of late because one is being used for the "Inferno" operating system, and because the concept is being promoted by Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Press."

"A "gated community" license generally allows some form of binary distribution, sometimes with a royalty payment to the Initial Contributor required. Gated communities are un-equal: the Initial Contributor of the program has more rights than anyone else in the community. In general the Initial Contributor has the right to distribute your modifications under any license it pleases, the Initial Contributor may demand royalties for sale of the software, and there may be other special terms to the license that go outside of what you'd expect in an Open Source license. O'Reilly actually calls them "Gated Open Source Communities," but this is incorrect: none of the gated community licenses are compliant with the Open Source Definition. Open Source allows anyone to participate."

"...Although Linux is now becoming superior to older Unix systems, it started out as a Unix clone with only one crucial difference: its licensing. Linux discarded the "Legally-Restricted Elite Group" method of development, replacing the gated community with a seeming free-for-all in which anyone is allowed to participate but the quality of your code ultimately determines whether or not it will be accepted. This opening of the gates propelled Linux into the mainstream just when its work-alike Unix had been given up for dead."

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