Open source profiteering strategy No. 7: Open-source to drive a hard bargain
While many open source licenses are flexible, some are increasingly Draconian. One of the newest, the Affero GPL, insists that the code must be shared if the code is merely running on a public server. The license emerged after some in the open source community noticed that some developers were benefiting from open source software but avoiding the requirement to share their own contributions. They weren't "distributing" the software, just running it, and the GPL only forced sharing when you "distributed" the software.
Some developers find this requirement easy to follow. They may be just experimenting or merely offering a free service. Sharing their own improvements doesn't put them at a competitive disadvantage. But many in business find the rule more trouble than the cost of buying a commercial license. The strength of the license helps nudge them to support the product.
The AGPL is a popular choice for many of the newer projects like the various NoSQL data stores. MongoDB, for instance, adopted the license for its core tool: the database. The company chose to protect the drivers, though, with the more lenient Apache license to encourage people to link to its core offering.
Open source profiteering strategy No. 8: Open-source to develop shared standards
Every business and marketplace needs a set of standards so that customers know what to expect and businesses know what to build. Open source can often help create these standards of interoperability.
Take HTML, the language we use for marking up documents on the Web -- but also a crucial standard that allows Web browsers to compete. Once the industry coalesced around the HTML standard, browser makers were able to innovate and compete on features instead of content. Content creators, on the other hand, were assured that the Web pages they produced would generally work on all available browsers.
Open source tools often lie at the center of this evolving standard. The mobile browser marketplace, for instance, was largely defined by the WebKit rendering engine originally created by Apple but adopted by
Open source profiteering strategy No. 9: Open-source to control the future
A number of businesses, big and small, pay their employees to work on open source projects. Some even donate large blocks of code that they spent plenty of money to create. They want to make sure they influence the way the code base is developing, and the easiest way to do this is to contribute lines of code.
This influence is constant. Many of the most important contributors to all the major projects like Linux also work for companies that want to stay current. The goal, of course, is to make sure the open source code remains useful for their purposes. If the library or tool is growing, the new features may not be compatible with the company's proprietary tools. But if the company writes a big chunk of the new features, they'll be able to ensure it fits their needs. As
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This story, "Greed is good: 9 open source secrets to making money," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in open source software at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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