internal fragmentation

a personal journal of hacking, science, and technology

How to structure a software project to have a minimum risk of corporate takeover

Tue, 21 Dec 2010 14:46 by mpm in Uncategorized (link)

“I have just heard a rumour (and I think that’s all it is) that Sun
had, and Oracle now has, some relatively deep involvement with
Mercurial.” –
recent post on the Mercurial mailing list

If you’re worried about your project being taken over, here’s what you should do:

  1. Choose a copyleft license like the GPL. This assures that the project can always be forked if it is hijacked. Use GPLv2+ or GPLv3 to avoid patent attacks from contributors.
  2. Do not require copyright assignment. This prevents a single entity from changing the license or making proprietary versions.
  3. Have a diverse group of contributors with many volunteers, so that many people and organizations have a stake in the project.
  4. Have a highly public development process so that undue influence by particular organizations is obvious.
  5. Keep an auditable record of all submissions.
  6. If you accept donations and contract work, make sure they are also widely diversified among competing companies.
  7. Make your project a member project of an organization like the Software Freedom Conservancy, which has the legal resources to avoid corporate attacks.
  8. Have a project leader who is a self-employed anti-corporate free software zealot.

ps: If you want a paranoid conspiracy, this one is much better: how did a little country like Denmark manage to get so over-represented (>1/3) on the Mercurial crew?
pps: Don’t worry, we’ve got our eyes on them.

1 Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Pick and others. Jim Pick said: RT @mpmselenic: How to structure a software project to have a minimum risk of corporate takeover: http://www.selenic.com/blog/?p=699 #me … […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention How to structure a software project to have a minimum risk of corporate takeover « internal fragmentation -- Topsy.com — Tue, 21 Dec 2010 @ 15:31

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