Open source licenses means free and nothing to consider? Think again

There’s a worrying trend amongst corporations taking up open source solutions as part of their enterprise portfolio. Open source penetration is of course great, but I’ve seen some examples where companies simply didn’t do their home work when it comes to the license part. As with any license, be it proprietary, commercial or open source – you need to read it! And you need to comply with it. Complying with open source licenses is not that hard; most of the time it’s simpler to comply to than with commercial counterparts. But I’ve seen many examples where companies as part of their core system are using a “personal, free for non-commercial use” open source product  – where the commercial one would cost them €50! So it’s not so much about saving money, but simply thinking open source is exactly the same as no cost, in all situations.

Trap

The most common trap comes to extending or modifying open source solutions. Most often there’s an obligation to share your add-on, improvement or tweak; an obligation not always observed. But think of it. You got the solution for free. The only thing you need to “pay back” is to also make your additions available for free. Simple as that. But if you don’t, there’s a growing risk in you being sued for non-compliance with the license. This could have different consequences, one being you have to pay, another being you need to stop using the open source component as part of your solution. This could have anything from minor to all-encompassing effects; perhaps a total rewrite of your solution?

Recommendation

So, following an open source license is not hard or expensive; just make sure you make your home work. Have a strategy for using open source software; it’s enough with a one-pager – but don’t leave it to the individual developer to handle.

I’ve recorded a video talking about this subject.  Joakim - from AC#4 Open Source discussion

 

Posted in Chronicals, Open Source

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