Open Source Software and IP Issues and Risks
What is Open Source software? Open Source software (OSS) is given out as an agreement under a licensing. This allows codes to be changed, seen, shared, by people and organizations. The general public has access to the open source software. They have the ability to take the original code for free and use it and change it. Anyone can use the software without having to pay the license fee. The world has permission to can edited any software added and has the capabilities not envisaged by its originators. This means software is touched up over time, but keeping in mind that it can be used in many different ways even with all of the changes in form and evolutions.
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What is proprietary software? Proprietary software is a software that is closed source and can be categorized as software distributed under a licensing agreement to give users authorization with private enhancing, copying, and reusing restrictions. The source code is never shared with the world for just anyone to modify and glanceat. Closed source is an arrangement that you would expect from most businesses, that in any case secretive and protective of their product and determined to keep control over their brand and the user experience given to their customers for example Apple is a business like that.
So what are the key differences in the two softwares? Which one is better for your business? There are a few main things that makes a difference but I am only going to talk about cost, usability, and security.
First, cost is one of the biggest advantages of open source software. That being said when attached to Open Source Software, the term “free” is not really about the cost. It has to do with less restriction and more freedom for users. But if the experts have the ability to maintain the software, and install resources, support staff and train them, then open source may be most many saving option for that person’s organization. So depending on that the long-term costs of incorporating, evolving, giving support, and investing in infrastructure as your company grows, technology improves, and your needs grow. For a Closed Source (CMS), given how complex your system is, you could be looking at between a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, which of course the base software is free. The hard cost can be higher, but what you get back is a more flexible product from a trusted brand, awesome functionality and high security system, and lower need to technical help.
Secondly, the ability to use the software is a big area of judgement for open source software because the technology is usually not checked by reliable experts. It caters to people who develop then the people who really use the software. For closed or proprietary software, usability is a high selling point. For example, Apple does software testing to make sure it is simple and easy to use for the audience it is trying to sell to. User manuals are given to help and to give quick training to employees or users, while support services help to maximize the use of the software. Third party systems and developers can use a handful tools to improve a “closed” source software.
Thirdly, large companies worry about the security of open source because software is not always made in a safe, credible source. Since there are people in different parts of the world developing the software, there is a problem with people not having the same idea which prevents communication between those people. The software is not always check or justified or authentic. This means anyone can place a backdoor Trojan into the software, and the people using it would not even know. Proprietary or closed software is usually thought to be more secure than others But because it is developed in a small environment by a specific team with a similar goal. This group of people are the only people that can change or see the source code, it is heavily checked and the danger of backdoor Trojans or bugs are almost not even possible. Not to say the system is not impenetrable or perfect but is much harder to crack and get into.
So which software has more legal implications/issues? I would have to go with Open Source Software because of the infringement risk and the risk of restrictions on your license. Open source comes with unusual license restrictions which can affect a company’s ideas and goals. There is a risk that the software could be tampered with due to the fact that they are obligated to open the source code to others. If the company modifies the software, or if they add software to some proprietary code, then the edited work has to be made freely available. For risk of infringement there is a high risk, compared to proprietary software, that open source breaks the third-party intellectual property rights, and open source users are not given a contract of protection for this high risk. It’s possible that a programmer can put in infringing code to open source code because it is created without the usual commercial controls and the code is open to the public. And given that, most of the people who offer open source do not offer the warranty protections customarily given for commercial products. In the end both of these can be very troublesome because your code is not protected and can be modified or copied, unless you take routes to secure and make your code private.
● Crooke, D. (2015, October 21). Open Source vs. Proprietary Software. Retrieved from https://www.greennet.org.uk/support/open-source-vs-proprietary-software
● Matteson, S. (2018, March 1). How to decide if open source or proprietary software solutions are best for your business. Retrieved from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-decide-if-open-source-or-proprietary-software-solutions-are-best-for-your-business/
● Saltis, S. (2019, July 15). Comparing Open Source Software vs Closed Source Software. Retrieved from https://www.coredna.com/blogs/comparing-open-closed-source-software
● Crahmaliuc, R. (2019, March 26). Proprietary or Open-Source Software – What Is Best for Users? Retrieved from https://www.simscale.com/blog/2017/06/open-source-vs-proprietary-software/
● Reid, T., & LLP, P. (2018, April 17). The Risks of Open Source Software. Retrieved from https://corporate.findlaw.com/business-operations/the-risks-of-open-source-software.html
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