May 7, 2014

The Conflict at the Heart of Open Source

The root cause (of underfunded open source projects that become part of critical infrastructure) is a fundamental conflict at the heart of open source: the opposing forces of building community vs. deriving a sustainable level of revenue from an open-source project.

The tension between these forces is most acutely felt when choosing a license for the project. Projects that have a greater interest in fostering use of the software or projects that don't care about much about monetization choose the "business-friendly" licenses (such as the Apache Software License, MIT, BSD), which impose nothing but the most minor responsibilities on the user or, more correctly, the licensee.

Projects that look for revenue to sustain themselves often choose the so-called "copyleft" licenses, (GPL, AGPL, etc.), which require that the licensees open their source code under a similar license. 

Read more at Dr. Dobb's.

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