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NDAs and FOSS

Mar 01, 2010, 04:02 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon 'maddog' Hall)

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"I recently had to sign a "Non-Disclosure Agreement" (NDA) for the first time in a long while, and I thought I would write about how an NDA might or might not fit in with Free and Open Source Software.

"One of the main ideas of FOSS is to share information, and we encourage both programmers and vendors to share as much information as possible.

"Sometimes a vendor shares some information with developers, and the vendor's words "we think we are going to do this" becomes misconstrued as "we are going to do this". Then people get upset when (perhaps a year later) the "promise" never materializes.

"Information like product lines that never get produced, shipping dates that are not realized, features that never appear, and other issues of the same ilk. If a customer of the vendor starts building their own business cases around these plans, and the vendor's plans do not materialize, then the customer might be out a lot of money. Framing this information with an NDA focuses the concept that "this is a goal, not a promise".

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