Open Source – Free does have a price!!

30 09 2007

When we first spotted this story 10 days ago, it opened some interesting conversations between myself, developers and clients.

Protecting Copy Rights – its simplest form, protection against infringements or out-right stealing your efforts for monetary gains. This however throws a curve ball that at first leaves you looking foolish, forcing you to re-read what you just read. An after careful viewing of the comments posted against the article you soon realize they(other readers) didn’t get either.

What attracts me is the Prue ideology behind this. Monsoon uses Open Source Code (free software) to develop their “proprietary” backbone. This Code is actually BusyBox’s, which freely publishes and distributes. Under the agreement, use the code to build your tools, then make your code available. Which seems fair enough, in such an Open Sourced World, but will it prevail.

Remember the technical arm of Monsoon is in India, so when we get into semantics of what this license entails it could get pretty crazy, but a hell of lot of fun too watch….

Surface, just release the code every one’s happy. Not so fast, Monsoon is claiming they have sold this to some pretty big heavy weights including some large Retail chains. They release the code, that relationship will dry up pretty fast. Not just distribution, OEM is more damaging. If under the rules of GPL version 2 is upheld, an a OEM used said code in development, they would be subjective to “making their code available”.
The ripple in that scene……

If Monsoon has placed their relationships in a potential damaging position, it was nice reading about you. And their position to stand firm is wise, not like they have options. The court will be looking at principals and purity of legal writings, plus the kicker, BusyBox is only looking to UP-Hold the practice of “making you code available upon use”. Monetary considerations have little or nothing to do with this, expect maybe court cost afterwards.

I’ve bounced this topic off a few Copy Right Attorneys locally, an it was refreshing to hear their first reaction was simple, but when I mentioned the potential “ripple”, dead silence.




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