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A Guide to Open Source Software

A Guide to Open Source Software

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Published by Ernesto Guevara
Something that Government and Society Should be aware of when implementing Opensource Projects
Something that Government and Society Should be aware of when implementing Opensource Projects

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Published by: Ernesto Guevara on Oct 23, 2010
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08/02/2012

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Most open source software is released under one of a number of different licensing

schemes. There are several dozen such licensing schemes in common usage. This high

number reflects the fact that most open source software is developed by consortia of

developers or by vendors and each has different expectations about how their software

should be reused by downstream developers. In some cases, developers who find that an

existing licence does not fulfil their requirements may simply formulate a new one.

Commentators often complain that there are too many open source licences and that this

adds to the confusion and therefore risk for users. While many in the open source industry

would prefer to restrict further fragmentation in licensing, there is no mechanism to prevent

new licences being added to the list maintained by the Open Source Initiative5
.

Not all software categorised as open source has an explicit licence governing its use and

redistribution. For example, public domain software (software with no copyright attached)

has no restrictions or requirements pertaining to subsequent use and redistribution.

Licence auditing should be considered best practice for both OSS and proprietary products.

To mitigate risk, agencies should understand every product licence used within their

environments, both proprietary and open source.

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