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Licensing Models for Open Source Education Software

open source educationDrawn to the allure of reduced costs, better performance and increased control, open source solutions have been adopted by institutions of higher learning for the past 15 years, give or take. As the technology’s popularity has increased, so too has the number of open-source-based projects. And that increase in projects has resulted in a more apparent need for more effective licensing.

Open source licensing generally requires both inbound and outbound agreements. When it comes to outbound licenses, programmers can adopt BSD-style licenses that allow them to charge for software or give it away for free. Or they can opt for GPL-style licenses that allow anyone to copy or modify software, so long as that person releases his or her modification to the open source community.

On the other side of the coin there are inbound licenses, which are “far less well-known but no less critical,” according to Ian Dolphin, director of the Apereo Foundation. Under such licenses, programmers agree that their contributed code is original and that it can forever be used for free by anyone.

In a proprietary environment, it can be difficult to make agreements surrounding intellectual property rights when working together on a project, if those agreements are ever reached at all. But in an educational environment, where a nonprofit group manages a strong and transparent inbound and outbound licensing system, those arguments can subside rather quickly. This resolution proverbially paves a smooth road that allows collaboration to occur with less friction.

It doesn’t seem that there needs to be a nonprofit entity for every individual open source project generated at educational institutions, but it does appear that such groups help can protect intellectual property in a communal way. In doing so, projects progress faster, and the open source community—as well as those outside it—benefit tremendously from technological innovation.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lacey Thoms

Lacey Thoms is a marketing specialist and blogger at Protecode, a provider of open source license management solutions. During her time at Protecode, Lacey has written many articles on open source software management. She has a background in marketing communications, digital advertising, and web design and development. Lacey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University.

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