Re: Documenting open source software in product?

Subject: Re: Documenting open source software in product?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 10:33:24 -0700

From: Bill Swallow [mailto:wswallow -at- nycap -dot- rr -dot- com] wrote:

If you're including 3rd party software within your own and shipping it,
you generally have to first get rights to do so (not sure how this works
with open source apps though)

If you're using open source or free software, the licenses specifically give you the right to copy. Under the GNU General Public License, the most common license for both open source and free software, the only restriction is that you can't add the code to proprietary code. Other licenses have different restrictions; for example, under the BSD License, you can add the code to proprietary code.

So long as your company's use of the code doesn't violate the license, you don't need to get any rights. However, when I've worked for open source companies, I always made sure that any projects knew when my company was bundling or otherwise using their code.

There were three reasons for acting this way:

First, it's only courtesy.Courtesy is rarely wasted in business at any time.

Second, commercial companies are often viewed suspiciously by contributors to open source or free software projects. Often, they dislike the fact that the companies are making money off their efforts.So, it's only sensible for companies to disarm these feelings by showing the projects some respect.Whenever possible, I've also suggested some contributions to the project, either money or code, or by endorsement.

Third, by establishing ties with the project, the company benefits. Its members can take part in the discussions about the project's directions. In return, it gets, in effect, a complete development team that it doesn't have to pay.

In short, the best relation that a company can have with an open source or free software project is that of an active member of the project.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

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RE: Documenting open source software in product?: From: KMcLauchlan

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