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Byte.com: The Business of Open Source

Jan 17, 2000, 20:28 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ted Coombs)

"It conflicts with the common sense of most professional artists and engineers to give away freely the source that underlies their work. The foundation of any business that depends on intellectual property is that people who develop copyrightable or patent-able material carefully protect their creations either legally or by maintaining trade secrets. Money is typically made in these businesses through planned obsolescence. Growth is achieved through the re-licensing of products as new versions render the old obsolete. Open source proponents prefer licenses that provide freedom from obsolescence and eliminate dependency on the original owner of intellectual property."

"The value of open source licensing is the guarantee of freedom that it provides. No open source product need ever become obsolete because the product's source serves as the foundation upon which future derived works are created, and everyone is free to use the source to derive new works. If you play by the rules of true open source, you never have to pay license fees for rights to intellectual property. So, how can open source, a model of doing business that flies in the face of age-old business logic, coexist with traditional, closed, models of intellectual property licensing?"

"Open source is not public domain. When you release your source code to the public under the terms of an open source license you do not relinquish your copyright or patent rights. Open source licenses grant conditional rights to members of the general public willing to comply with the terms of the open source license. You can still sell private licenses to individuals and companies that are unwilling or unable to comply with the terms of the open source license. This is one of the freedoms afforded to you, the developer and copyright or patent holder, that is never mentioned in any of the documents discussing open source philosophy. Your freedoms as a property owner are not supposed to be forfeited simply because you believe in the open source philosophy."

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