Availability and Ownership

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.



This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

Comments (4)

  1. AndyO says:

    "Ownership is not important, only availability."

    I look very much forward to an explanation to that assessment. Availability is perhaps the oftent most important, but if the owner can "cut the airsupport" on you or your availabiliy by snapping fingers, ownership becomes very important. In other words; If the ownership-issue is unresolved, availability is irrelevant. If you find an abandoned car with the keys in the ignition, wouldn’t you like to know the owners take on you getting in and drive off, even if availability in the current moment is total?

  2. Jason Matusow says:

    AndyO –

    I totally agree. I chose to stay away from the legal implications of ownership in this posting as the argument as put to me was regarding economic opportunity.

    I think the issues with ownership go very deep in the OSS disucssion. It is an area I often speak about as open source software is most definitely someone’s property. Their choice as to how to license that property is the crux of the biscuit. (sorry, Frank Zappa reference)


  3. Mike says:

    There seems to be something wrong with the blog engine. On the front page it reads "0 comments", but following the link I see two comments.

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