When it comes to software licensing, many seem to have their position all sorted out. Some are convinced that every restriction is wrong and that adding a license is a restriction. Others think that anyone who can stop software being open is in the wrong and that any license which doesn’t stop proprietary use is bad. A third group (particularly associated with 3D printing) is of the opinion that as things made by code are uncopyrightable, the code which makes it ought to be uncopyrightable too. When it comes to understanding open source licensing though, the problem with all these views is their emphasis on ownership.
In open source, the act of putting licenses on everything is never an act of aggression, of meddling or of unwanted control. No ownership is being claimed. Instead the open source license is a pre-emptive giving of permission. When possible problems or questions of ownership arise in the future, the answer is clear already, permission has been given.
Of course there are those who see this “stick a license on everything” approach as unnecessarily bureaucratic, preferring to simply proclaim that everything they produce is in the “public domain”. Unfortunately the concept is not one which is recognised in all parts of the world and continues to lead to legal confusion. By using OSI approved, open source licenses, you can guarantee the freedom to innovate without seeking permission first.
Read more in Simon’s InfoWorld column.
Earlier this week we saw the debut of GitHub’s new microsite choosealicense.com. At the same time, source code analysis specialist Black Duck revealed their analysis of GitHub projects. The analysis claims that 77% of GitHub projects have no declared license. A little digging needs to be done to properly understand this number though. Continue reading →
This morning saw the announcement by the Italian province of South Tyrol that they would begin a three year migration process to using LibreOffice for all of it’s public administration needs; they apparently use Microsoft products at present. The move is part of a broader strategy to eliminate dependence on monopolistic vendors, reduce costs, become more flexible and support locally based service providers.
You can tell that this is a project with a high likelihood of success because of the extent of the planning that has apparently gone into making the change. Simon’s article “Migrating to Open Source Needs a Plan” laid out some of the reasons why it’s vital that these sorts of migrations are not taken lightly or used simply as a cost cutting measure. When done carefully and with forethought there are rich rewards to be reaped and this South Tyrol migration bears the hall marks of an administration that is making the change in the right way. Gradual phase in, dialogue with and training for unfamiliar users, a changeover budget, these are all signs that this is one migration which is going to meet its aims.
The “Technical Round Table for Open Source” on whose advice this decision seems to have been made have very likely built their proposed changeover plan on the basis of the document foundations own recommendations for migrating to LibreOffice. It will be interesting to watch the progress of this bold move.