Cruel Hoax…

Matt’s post on managing the ‘No Open Source’ clause cites stats from the recent Forrester report that shows a perniciously high percentage of respondents are concerned with ‘legal liabilities for copyright and patent infringement” (43% if I read the data properly), and how a dual license strategy takes this issue off the table.

That all makes perfect sense.

But what if the reason dual license open source companies like mySQL are successful is because Enterprises overstate the real risk of using open source software!

Wouldn’t that be ironic: As Enterprises gain awareness and sophistication about open source licensing issues and IP, they become increasingly comfortable with the GPL’d version of the code and grow less inclined to pay for the commercial license.

That sure would be a kick in the head. A cruel hoax played out on the budding opportunity for commercial open source.

Fortunately, there’s little risk of that actually being the case.

Red Hat, who can’t offer a non GPL’d kernel, has clearly demonstrated that certified binaries, automatic updates and support provide value that Enterprises are willing (and sometimes even anxious) to pay for. And companies that can offer a dual license, like mySQL, have the additional license alternative to offer for embedded and redistributed applications.

That same Forrester report indicates that the number one concern Enterprises have regarding open source is ‘Availability of Service and Support’ mentioned by 74% of the respondents. These kinds of service and support subscriptions are becoming a standard offering from commercial open source companies. And for those Enterprises that are still uncomfortable with GPL’d code, these subscriptions sometimes even include a commercial (i.e. non-GPL) license to the code.


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