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corporations and open source

Today I realized that there is an exception to the rule regarding control of open source projects that I mentioned yesterday. The question was how much can an open source project be controlled, the answer was: not much. The exception is: unless you're a corporation.

Corporations manage to keep tight control of their open source projects when they want to, not because their programmers have more Vitamin B and excercise often, but because they create their own open source license. Everybody seems to have an open source license these days. With their proliferation (examples: the OpenOffice License, the Mozilla/Netscape Licenses, etc, etc.) I imagine this must be a profitable niche for lawyers by now. With special licenses they control how much things can change, and although of course once the code is out there anybody can use it for something else, it would be illegal.

Their main reason for "open-sourcing" things seems to be publicity and trying to stop Microsoft from crushing them, not in that order. Real's recent move to open-source part of its software is a good example. Microsoft, as usual in anything that deals with business matters (ie not technical) is way ahead of everybody else and has been perfecting its strategy of perverting open source licenses for its own uses.

Most of these phony initiatives wither and die, since usually there is nobody from the developer community behind them (except a few open source "gurus" that always come out and say that anybody that uses open source is a Good Thing). Hopefully in the long run more good than bad will come out of these initiatives.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on July 24 2002 at 1:11 PM

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