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I have a web application I've been considering open sourcing but, honestly, I was advised not to because you just never know who will go picking through your source code and decide that you used something they own etc. Doesn't matter if you wrote it and everything is original code, somebody, somewhere is looking to sue.

The argument my business associates used against me was that to open source even a reduced functionality version of the application could open the company up to lawsuits. Anyway.. one day I would like to just release something to the open source community but this is the kind of resistance you face from the business side of things. It probably doesn't help that what we're doing uses C# and the ASP.NET framework.. not so open source to begin with but people have been writing more and more projects in C# and releasing them. Well.. thanks for the article.


JP, thanks for your post.

You're right, I suppose there is always a risk to be sued but consider this:

On the one hand lawsuits following an open source release don't happen that often. If those are from competitors they cannot do much once the source has been released "in the wild" plus they will antagonize the entire open source community, which is really gaining influence nowadays.

On the other hand, your associates might consider all the benefits of opening the source. From building and interacting with a community to giving your product a much larger exposure.

Don't give up!

Fred Arnold

Hmmm...I can't recall a single FOSS project getting sued for using someone else's code. There are sometimes licensing disputes, but I can't think of a single one that ever went to court, not between FOSS projects. But in the closed, proprietary software world such suits are a staple of doing business, and a number of proprietary vendors have gotten busted for misusing FOSS code. Microsoft, for one example, is continually being sued, and their losses outnumber their wins. Whoever gave you that advice is not someone I would go back to for more advice.


.Net web applications aren't especially well known for cutting edge tech or innovation so I'd say the concerns about being sued are a bit contrived (or self delusional).


.Net web applications aren't especially well known for cutting edge tech or innovation so I'd say the concerns about being sued are a bit contrived (or self delusional).


The idea of holding unto a proprietary software job is worth less than you might think. I'm not saying all free software developers get paid well, but that ego you get from doing free software, thats what people hire on, what they think you can do. They always have that code you wrote to look at. Who wants to work at some dinosaur company that can't beat the competition because its competition is some open source project? If you are working on proprietary software, your job is in danger regardless.



Thanks for talking the time to comment.

In some distant future, actual giants might be indeed replaced by clusters of cottage industries gravitating around FOSS projects.

But I don't see why one should not reflect about how the transition itself operates, that is how and why FOSS is step-by-step introduced into proprietary software.

I don't see either why you would be so dismissive of those developers working for proprietary software companies.

Some of them have both real talent and great imagination. There is no obvious reason yet to think that more innovation comes from FOSS than from proprietary software.

Maybe the trick is to realize that FOSS changes software development itself much more than it changes companies or people?


It's OK... you found it useful, you weren't publishing your code to the world anyway, you're completely within the GNU charter.

Free software is doing fine anyway, so yeah, it would have been nice. One day it will work out. Don't sweat it now, be happy. :)


@mtg: Actually, FOSS is more innovative for a very good reason. The developers in proprietary companies are just as smart and innovative as FOSS ones. But management kills the innovation with investment review boards, business plans, ROI calculations, core business focus, and all the other MBA flavour-of-the-year garbage. The innovators get tired of banging their head against the wall and give up or leave. And I'm not making this up, I'm talking from years of personal experience and experiences of others I've talked to and read about.

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