Open core


Open core

Open core (a.k.a. proprietary relicensing[1]) is a business model where an open source product is also made available commercially with non-open-source additions. The name "open core" came into use in early 2010 but the business model had already existed for many years.

This requires the entity releasing the commercial version to have legal rights to do so, either from the use of a permissive free software licence, such as the BSD licence, or from the assignment of copyright from all software contributors to that commercial entity when using licenses such as the GPL.[2]

Contents

Examples

Canonical Ltd., maintainers of Ubuntu have been accused of preparing to go open core, but have not done so.[3] The accusations stemmed from Canonical's contributor agreement and their Project Harmony which aimed "to assist organisations which use contribution agreements by providing standardised variable templates with clear and concise explanations...."[4]

Assignment with protections against open core

Some open core models use copyright assignment, but it should be pointed out that some open source projects require assignment of copyright for the sole purpose of defending that copyright, with the promise of retaining (only) open source licensing. For example, by prosecuting modification and binary release of GPLed software without release of the modified source code.

Organisations which see open core as a danger include clauses in their assignment to prohibit open core licensing. One example is Free Software Foundation Europe's (FSFE) Fiduciary Licence Agreement (used by KDE.[5] ). In this agreement, developers assign copyright to FSFE, but FSFE promises to use a free software licence when distributing the software:

FSFE shall only exercise the granted rights and licences in accordance with the principles of Free Software as defined by the Free Software Foundations. FSFE guarantees to use the rights and licences transferred in strict accordance with the regulations imposed by Free Software licences, including, but not limited to, the GNU General Public Licence (GPL) or the GNU Lesser General Public Licence (LGPL) respectively. In the event FSFE violates the principles of Free Software, all granted rights and licences shall automatically return to the Beneficiary and the licences granted hereunder shall be terminated and expire.[6]

Other projects that use copyright assignments but which promise not to distribute the software as open core include the GNU Project[7] and OpenOffice.org.[8]

See also

External links

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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