November 10, 2020
How Congress Sees Open Sourcea view from outside
Earlier this year, the antitrust, commercial, and administrative law subcommittee of the judicial committee of the United States House of Representative published a report of their investigation into competition in digital markets, specifically focused on Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. On page 325 of that report, in the section on Amazon’s competitive use of AWS data, the report summarizes open source in a single paragraph. Omitting the footnotes:
Open-source licenses allow software to be freely used, modified, and shared. Open-source software can run on any infrastructure, local machine, server room, or on the cloud, reducing lock-in to a specific hardware vendor. Companies based on open-source software bring in revenue by selling additional features under proprietary licenses or services. In recent years, open-source development has been a leading model for software development, attracting significant venture capital investment.
Most open licensing wonks could quibble with every sentence. But I think that would be to miss the value here. Given a limited amount of space and time, this is what the committee members and their aids dug up for “open source in a nutshell”. This is how they came to understand “open source”, earnestly, but indifferently, interested, but not invested.
Good to take a look through other eyes when we can.
Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.
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