I’m on the road in Asia this week and am having some great conversations about source licensing issues. I’ll try to be a good blogger and post some interesting stuff based on this trip.
The first thing that came up today was a long exchange about availability and ownership. Does ownership matter when the code is available? The basic premise of the conversation was the idea that with OSS, code availability is the whole point. Ownership is not important, only availability.
Most of the OSS discussions in Asia are focused on growing software businesses. Open source is the buzz term, but it is not generally because of the desire to contribute to open source projects. The focus is on using the OSS technologies in binary form and building proprietary solutions on top of them.
I’m sure that contributions back to projects from Asian devs are happening to a small degree. But that is by no means the reason that the discussion about OSS is so active.
To the extent that OSS projects allow for rapid consumption in binary form for start up development projects – the availability argument is sound. The problem is when the argument is taken to the next step. Consuming OSS projects means that the OSS model is the engine for software industry growth and thus the governments should be investing in OSS R&D, industrial policy favoring OSS, and procurement preferences.
Economic opportunity is driven by scarcity. If I have a unique product my economic opportunity is much greater. The more successful OSS software companies today are doing so by building unique value (which is not shared in most cases) into their software.
Availability has the potential to increase adoption. Ownership creates economic opportunity. MySQL has clearly paid attention in this space.
More to come from the road…must not succumb to jet lag.
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