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O'Reilly Open Source Convention


Protecting the Innovation Premium -- Open Source Business Models
Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz, Asurion

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Wednesday, July 09
Time: 11:30am - 12:15pm
Location: Salon I

A key concern for governments and large (non-software) companies is how to encourage open source development without damaging the software industry.

The difficulty for participants in open source markets is how to derive profits from their efforts, while at the same time remaining true to the principles of open-ness. Existing licenses are designed to make it as easy for others to profit from their labours as themselves. Consequently most existing open source companies derive their profits from proprietary activities.

Lefkowitz's presentation examines existing open source business models, and how the pressure to generate profits causes them to behave (in their profit-making activities) indistinguishably from proprietary software companies (e.g. dual licensing under the GPL and a proprietary license is an admission that the profit is derived from being a proprietary software vendor -- the GPL version is advertising -- or philanthropy).

He then looks at a few existing business models that are not the same as proprietary software companies (treating the business of producing software more like a consulting company, or a private school).

Finally, Lefkowitz proposes changes to licensing regimes that would protect the innovation premium, while also protecting open-ness and freedom -- how to modify the GPL and BSD licenses to conform with the original intent of patent and copyright law. He also examines how accredication and certification can / should interact with the production of software. E.g. in our system of medicine, anyone is free to become a doctor and practice medicine, but there are certain pre-requisites -- and failure to fulfill them is a criminal offense.

Download presentation file

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