Managing Open Source Agreements and Licenses
Joseph D'Angelo, Attorney, EMC Corporation, USA
Kevin Perkins, Director, Senior Counsel - Intellectual Property, EMC Corporation, USA
Teddy Chen, Director of IP and Assoc. General Counsel, EMC Corporation, USA
Open Source Software (OSS) is generally software wherein the source code is available, downloadable without cost, can be modified, and the modifications are distributable. Thus, OSS provides an alternative and viable, but different business model that can complement or replace the proprietary software model. The OSS software paradigm, like that of proprietary software, comes with a specific bundle of costs; however, these bundles of costs are very different. This article seeks to examine the OSS costs to enable a business to make an educated decision about using open source software.
Generally, OSS is not free in the classical sense; rather, OSS licenses present a myriad of restrictions and implicit costs. For example, in addition to OSS license compliance costs, other costs of OSS may include maintenance, education, risk-management programs, and real and opportunity costs, all of which are discussed below. Consequently, the benefits of open source such as speeding software development and deployment should be weighed against the costs of its use.
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