Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Towards Software Commons

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The context here is a company that announced its product was open source under something called the Business Software License (BUSL). It had one condition: "The restrictive nature of it is fairly lightweight within the context of Sentry and Codecov: you simply cannot commercialize it as a competing service." This though was enough to get it flagged as Not Open Source. Those with memories as long as mine will know that this was the real purpose of open source back in the beginning: to protect coders from companies who would take their code, change a few words, and relaunch it as a commercial product (All Rights Reserved). But in the hands of places like Berkeley and MIT, Open Source came to mean no restrictions whatsoever - including commercial use. This column is a proposal for an alternative model, 'Software Commons', "all computer software which is available at little or no cost and which can be reused with few restrictions."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

Copyright 2024
Last Updated: May 22, 2024 5:48 p.m.

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