Open source means surrendering your monopoly over commercial exploitation, Drew DeVault

Participation in open source requires you to surrender your monopoly over commercial exploitation. This is a profound point about free and open source software which seems to be causing a lot of companies to struggle with their understanding of the philosophy of FOSS, and it’s worth addressing on its own. It has been apparent for some years now that FOSS is eating the software world, and corporations are trying to figure out their relationship with it. One fact that you will have to confront in this position is that you cannot monopolize the commercial potential of free and open source software.

Goes on to quote OSD

Anyone can monetize your code. That includes you, and me, all of your contributors, your competitors, Amazon and Google, and everyone else. This is a rejection of how intellectual property typically works — copyright laws exist for the express purpose of creating an artificial monopoly for your business, and FOSS licenses exist for the express purpose of breaking it. If you’re new to FOSS, it is going to be totally alien to your understanding of IP ownership.

[FOSS] increases wealth for everyone. Capitalism concerns itself with making monopolies — FOSS instead concerns itself with the socialized creation of software wealth.

I strongly disagree with DeVaults statements, especially the closing quote.

Feels like he is still in the rose coloured glasses relationship with OSS, where software is somehow maintained as a side effect without effort by individuals and companies scratching issues and contributing back.

I see this a lot, including the “well, that’s what the license allows”

I do think the single copyright owner and CLA driven open source is a whole other issue.

I’m going to continue to promote Prosperity and non-commercial licenses generally as I find they are a better fit in spirit to the intent of shared maintenance of code.

i found his other post even worse / wrong.


I should link to the other thread to which DeVault’s post is a timely response to, the recent Elastic license change.

Here’s a tweet that is relevant:

Amazon may have acted legally correct, which is not the same thing as social norms, being collaborative, and just, not being a dick.

Drew’s been being wrong about this shit since mid-2018:
so i guess it’s nice to see that some things never change, at least.

1 Like

I don’t pay attention to Drew DeVault, unless he’s trying to railroad someone who may or may not be familiar with his record in an issue on GitHub somewhere. Self-righteous is one thing. Bullying is another.

If Drew’s got his own definition of “open source”, huzzah. Add it to the pile.