why is taking open-source code closed expensive?

Michael Tiemann tiemann at redhat.com
Mon Jul 9 13:57:19 UTC 2007

Joseph Hick wrote:
> from
> http://www.catb.org/~esr/Licensing-HOWTO.html#id2790430
> "What keeps most projects open-source isn't the threat
> of lawsuit, it's that taking open-source code closed
> is an expensive way to lose lots of money as your
> handful of salaried in-house developers tries to keep
> up with a much larger pool of open-source
> contributors."
> i didn't understand why taking open-source code and
> keeping it closed is expensive?
For the same reason it is expensive for a farmer to take all their 
plants inside their own closed house.  Unlike the natural environment 
which can provide sunlight, water, bees, and every other thing needed by 
plants, the closed-house farmer must manufacture their own sunlight, 
import their own water, design their own mechanical pollenators, etc.  
Open source developers function very much like the natural energies that 
farmers take for granted, and closed-source developers function like 
gears in an industrial machine--a machine which must be designed, built, 
paid for, and maintained, all at the owner/operator's expense.
> "Are copyleft licenses enforceable? We believe they
> are, but there hasn't been a court test yet. There are
> some promising precedents in case law pertaining to
> shrink-wrap licenses"
> if we are not sure that licenses like GPL v3 are
> enforceable under law then how do so many programmers
> take the risk of releasing their project under GPL
> v3.? :-O
Those questions are completely irrelevant to your first question.  Those 
questions represent the classic FUD arguments that were prevalent around 
1999.  They are now obsoleted by experience.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list