7 Rules For Engaging Communities On Legal Matters

When you need to discuss a license, a legal document like a CLA or a governance rule with an open source community, what’s the best approach to take?

Squirrel pops up behind log to check things outHaving watched a fair number of people attempting to engage both the Open Source Initiative’s licensing evaluation community and the Apache Software Foundation’s legal affairs committee, here are some hints and tips for succeeding when your turn comes to conduct a discussion over legal terms with an open source community. Continue reading

Engaging Open Source Communities

At FOSDEM 2017, Simon gave a well-attended talk explaining many of the things that could go wrong for a company trying to engage a large open source project over legal or governance issues. Based loosely on a mailing list thread at the Apache Software Foundation, the talk highlighted seven things to avoid and gave ideas on how to do so.

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How Can Open Source Become User-Centric?

Including design and UX in a true community project is a challenging matter of balance because of the motivational model behind open source projects.

Mexican Hat rock

According to The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the key motivation for participants in open source projects is “scratching their own itch.” One consequence of this is co-ordination of contributions to support user-centric design is inherently an optional extra in a true open source project with multiple independent participants.  We all wish there was a way to get genuine user experience quality as a key dynamic of open source projects. But there are two big reasons that is challenging. Continue reading

Large-Scale Governance – 10 Apache Lessons

Starting a large-scale open source project? The Apache Software Foundation is the benchmark against which you will be measured.

Santa Cruz surfer

We’re now well beyond the point where open source has “won”. We’re seeing the open source idea starting to mature beyond even adolescence into adulthood. As it does so, our understanding and expectations of open source communities need to expand. Continue reading

The Cost Of Open Sourcing Your Project

Accusing a company of “dumping” their project as open source is probably misplaced – it’s an expensive business no-one would do frivolously.

swan-m

If you see an active move to change software licensing or governance, it’s likely someone is paying for it and thus could justify the expense to an executive. Continue reading

Community Credentials

Simon was surprised when he went to the Microsoft press release page looking for the news about Linux support for SQL Server and joining Eclipse. He found that the only press release related to Linux was about patent licensing. He’s written about it today on InfoWorld and expanded the thought on his blog.

FAQ: Which open source license is best?

A frequently asked question in the world of free and open source software (as well as the origin of many disputes) is “Which open source license is best?”

 

Unlike bilateral copyright licenses, which are negotiated between two parties and embody a truce between them for business purposes, multilateral copyright licenses — of which open source licenses are a kind — are “constitutions of communities”, as Eben Moglen and others have observed. They express the consensus of how a community chooses to collaborate. They also embody its ethical assumptions, even if they are not explicitly enumerated.

When that consensus includes giving permission to all to use, study improve and share the code without prejudice, the license is an open source license. The Open Source Definition provides an objective test of evaluating that such a license is indeed an open source license and delivers the software freedom we all expect.

Since licenses are the consensus of communities, it is natural that different communities will have different licenses, that communities with different norms will find fault with the licenses used by others, and that all will regard their way as optimum. The arguments over this will be as deep as the gulf between the philosophical positions of the communities involved.

Ultimately, there is no license that is right for every community. Use the one that best aligns with your community’s objectives and ethos. Meshed Insights can help you select an open source license for your project as this is not primarily a legal matter; please contact us.

[Now adopted as part of OSI’s official FAQ]