Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers, Eclipse, Apache

Open Source Cloud: Blog Post

Everything You Need to Know About Software Copyright & Licensing-to-Share

The "licenseless" software trend does not help open source

  1. Software is protected by copyright law in the U.S. and many other countries.
  2. Anyone that wrote the software, owns the copyright and can say how it is used.  [NOT saying how it can be used does NOT remove your responsibility as the owner, even if you don't care.]
  3. People sometimes give up their copyright ownership to the software they write in their employment agreements.  [If you didn't read your employment agreement, you're probably not a professional software developer.]
  4. If you want to liberally share your software with others so they can use it for anything, there are a few well-accepted SIMPLE licenses (Apache 2.0BSDMIT).  These essentially say:
    • Do whatever you want with the software.
    • Don't claim my work as your own.
    • Do give me credit for my work.
    • THIS SOFTWARE COMES WITH NO WARRANTIES, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK, [ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE WE REALLY REALLY MEAN IT].

It takes about two minutes each to read the Apache 2.0Berkeley, and MIT licenses.  Pick one.  They are good enough for one of the most successful collaborations we have witnessed in the short history of software development, and for two institutions for higher learning recognized for their contributions to computer and software technology.  These licenses were written by lawyers that understood software copyright law and liberally sharing software.  Apache Software Foundation projects are powering the growing business ecosystems of cloud computing, and have successfully powered the rise of the web for 15 years.  No lawyer you hire will do better.

If you live on GitHub, it will take you less time than reading this post to visit the appropriate OSI URL, copy the text, and paste it into a LICENSE file in the top of the tree with the appropriate minor edits for date and project name.

If you care about software freedom, then you are admitting you have already probably read more on the topic than the average developer, and can go refresh yourself on the excellent Free Software Foundation essays, re-read the GNU licenses, and choose appropriately.

If you are trying to "make money" from your software, then you are admitting

  • you need to involve a lawyer in your business,  or
  • spend enough time educating yourself on the business tools available in your chosen profession.  A very good reference for developers is Van Lindberg's Intellectual Property and Open Source.

If you think you need an opinion on software patents, re-read the previous paragraph.

That's it.  There's the two minute course.  If you read quickly, it was over faster.

Any other discussion is window-dressing or whining, and just plain unprofessional if you write software for a living or for other people to use.  If you want folks to use your software, license your work.  Writers do it.  Artists do it.  Engineers and architects do it.   So should you.

More Stories By Stephen Walli

Stephen Walli has worked in the IT industry since 1980 as both customer and vendor. He is presently the technical director for the Outercurve Foundation.

Prior to this, he consulted on software business development and open source strategy, often working with partners like Initmarketing and InteropSystems. He organized the agenda, speakers and sponsors for the inaugural Beijing Open Source Software Forum as part of the 2007 Software Innovation Summit in Beijing. The development of the Chinese software market is an area of deep interest for him. He is a board director at eBox, and an advisor at Bitrock, Continuent, Ohloh (acquired by SourceForge in 2009), and TargetSource (each of which represents unique opportunities in the FOSS world). He was also the open-source-strategist-in-residence for Open Tuesday in Finland.

Stephen was Vice-president, Open Source Development Strategy at Optaros, Inc. through its initial 19 months. Prior to that he was a business development manager in the Windows Platform team at Microsoft working on community development, standards, and intellectual property concerns.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...