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Post-Open Licensing Offers Alternatives to Developers for Funding

Software developers and companies wonder if the open-source movement has reached a crossroads, and if it needs to take a new direction.

The first open-source software was created in the 1960s, with the advent large-scale commercial computer systems. It came with a freely distributed source code.

Today, OSS has become ubiquitous and is used in all industries, including proprietary systems. The software is released under an array of licenses, which give users different rights, including the right to use, modify, and distribute it freely. Anyone can also review its source code.

A grassroots movement is growing in part due to frustrations about revenue and license concerns. Despite the OSS’s growth over the past five decades, some insiders in the software industry are trying to solve other problems and prevent license abuse.

Open Source at a critical junction

Ann Schlemmer is the CEO of the long-standing open source champion Percona, OSS community’s frustration is definitely justified. She acknowledges that open-source has reached a crossroads, and needs to be considered with much more care.

Schlemmer, a TechNewsWorld contributor, said: “The open-source community must have a serious conversation about expectations for OSS going forward at all levels, including individual, organization, and movement.”

What could replace, or at least refine open source? Bruce PerensThis is what, known as one of its founders, works on. The free software pioneer says that OSS licenses no longer work.

“I accept non-open-source solutions as long they follow one rule. Don’t call it Open Source!” He told TechNewsWorld.

Savings, not destruction, of a valuable working windfall

Perens worked with Monty Widenius, the developer of the original MySQL open-source database, and Kai Arnaud the founder of open-source MariaDB on the Business Source License. He said that his goal was to ensure the brand of open source did not get diluted and to make it more obvious when BSL software would become real open source.

Perens was one of the founding members of what might come next, the Post-Open Movement. He has written on what the next step in the development and use of community-based technology should be.

“One of my criticisms about the Creative Commons is that they have a lot different rules and the only commonality was the right of reading. Open Source, on the other hand, has clear rules that have stood up for over 26 years. I wanted Business Source Licenses to be more precise and not as vague.

What’s Next?

Schlemmer, Perens and others share a similar view on the abuse of open-source licenses by companies. Perens believes open source will continue.

“I’d like open source to achieve some goals it hasn’t yet achieved.” Perens said that there was a general consensus on the idea.

Schlemmer also believes the biggest problem in the industry is the adoption of the title “open-source” and its associated language.

“Other licenses that are not so open-source are confusing the issue and increasing confusion and unease about what open-source really means,” Schlemmer said.

Perens is, however, adamant that open-source licensing will not be changed. He’s mainly talking for independent open source developers whose aim is to help others rather than run a program of corporate welfare for the richest corporations in the world, as he suggested.

“Post-Open” would only have one license. He noted that Open Source has 100 licenses.

Changing Times, Changing Directions

The OSS Movement is experiencing a midlife Crisis. The OSS movement is facing debates on how OSS should be applied in artificial intelligence, and how it can navigate increased regulatory oversight.

Schlemmer said that this sudden upsurge of open-source reversals didn’t just happen. It’s no coincidence that it is happening. A tumultuous economy — especially within the tech sector — is causing organizations to experience more immediate economic pressure to generate revenue.”

This has forced many open-source companies to rethink how “open” their products should be. Schlemmer cautioned that the bait-and-switch tactic is not to be excused.

She added, “But it’s happening more and that indicates that OSS is in a crossroads. And the community will be forced to answer some difficult questions if we hope to combat this trend.”

Schlemmer considers the shift towards more restrictive licenses as overwhelming for a majority of organizations. She sees it as a response to increasing economic pressure. She said that the economy in recent years was far from stable and commented on the link between free software concepts, as well as the need to keep the lights on for developers.

She noted that many businesses are under pressure to quickly generate revenue and show profitability.

The pressing problems summarized

Schlemmer says that most of the challenges and controversies around open source today can be boiled up to one thing: how do we define the term and what are the best licensing models in the world of today?

She stated that “there have been disagreements and debates around these issues for quite some time. But finding common ground has become both more difficult and necessary as technology and economic landscapes continue their rapid changes.”

How to best implement open-source in the AI field is one of the most significant and controversial questions. Existing open-source definitions and licenses do not work in the context AI because AI is fundamentally different from traditional software.

Schlemmer urged, “Given the importance and potential of AI it is essential that the open-source communities address these questions and reach a consensus on a new type of standard or license.”

Unintended consequences of making changes can occur

Schlemmer predicts that support issues could arise if business practices change to open-source. She believes that reactions will vary depending on factors such as company size, budget and internal talent.

She suggested that “reactions will vary depending on the primary reasons for the company to adopt open-source software” in the first instance.

If businesses are only interested in open source as a way to save money, they may be more cautious and consider all of their options, even proprietary solutions, before adopting them, according to Schlemmer.

The “free” nature of OSS, however, is not the only reason why organizations may choose open source. Those who select open-source software for other reasons — such as ease of integration or access to community support — will be much less likely to translate their frustration into action.

These organizations will find it hard to “vote” with their feet if they are not offered these key value propositions elsewhere.

Paying Post-Open is Important

Perens believes that Post-Open should pay developers. The process is not instantaneous.

“At this stage, I talk mainly with companies about financing. “We need around US$200,000 straight away. Half for me, to work on the process and policy, and half for a lawyer, to produce 3 documents and provide some advice about the policy,” explained he.

Entities that collect over $5 million in end-user revenue and those that wish to use the Post-Open software in sold products would be active in the money-making process — as would companies wanting to make proprietary modifications to the Post-Open software.

He said that all of them would have to audit and report their Post-Open use every year and pay us an amount equal to 1% or less of their end user revenue.

“This is a lot easier than open source compliance today — and cheaper! Perens noted that big companies spend $7,000,000 per year on compliance.

Post-Open Success: What to Expect

It will take at minimum a year for companies to report on Post-Open’s use, and before revenue begins to flow. Perens will provide mass support for the Post-Open Collection.

Perens predicted that the support staff would deal directly with customers, while the open-source developers could maintain their projects with no need to interact with end users. “I think many of them would find this very appealing,” he said.

Open-source software developers have the option to obtain dual licensing with Post Open. Perens said that Post-Open clients will pay them instead of using an open-source license.

It’s part and parcel of their Post-Open Agreement. The developers will start to earn money,” concluded he.