Mark Shuttleworth on companies and free software
Posted May 18, 2011 10:09 UTC (Wed) by pboddie
In reply to: Mark Shuttleworth on companies and free software
Parent article: Mark Shuttleworth on companies and free software
Owning copyright gives you only one kind of revenue-generating power. All other ways to generate revenue do not require copyright ownership.
The above quote has probably the most insight per word of the entire discussion. Copyright assignment is not merely about one specific kind of revenue generation: it is about exclusivity with respect to that kind of activity. And although people try to bring copyleft licences into this as some kind of problem - albeit only a "problem" if you want to make proprietary software and you're left staring at a copyleft licence - the actual issue is not which licence is attached to a "code drop" from an entity owning the code; it is the presence of double standards from the owner: that the community should believe and participate in the development of Free Software, but the owner would like to make some money from proprietary software.
This isn't problematic if the owner really developed the code themselves or rewarded those who did - there's a discussion to be had about whether a contributor is "rewarded" by being able to participate in a project and to use that project's code in the first place - but when a community of people have made the project into what it is, those people might regard the financial exploitation of their work as unfair. Economists and others might argue that the inequality of the roles in such projects should naturally lead to a smaller community of outsiders.
People who care about the availability as Free Software of their contributions might be more likely to contribute to projects which employ copyleft licences. However, such people may object to their contributions being used in proprietary software through copyright assignment or special licence grants. But if companies want to build a community around their software, they have to consider such issues carefully.
No company would enter a new field completely uninformed, so I don't really sympathise with the sentiments about people being unfriendly to clumsy businesses.
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