Primary open source software development conventions are ‘peer production’ by bartering and collaboration based on mutual interest in root materials (such as source-code and documentation) and desired outcome. Nevertheless, utilizing a generally accepted open source software development process presents business, technology, and legal risks to a system development life cycle achieving the entity’s objectives. In particular, there are elevated risks to: cost management, release management, copyright infringement, and project assurance associated with undertaking an open source software development project. Thus, management needs to understand and appropriately mitigate perceived risks considering the operating environment’s requirements.
In many situations, open source licensing is an essential element enabling open source programs to qualify as open source software. However, there are numerous variations in the terms and conditions associated with an open software licensing agreement. To reduce misunderstandings that can lead to legal adjudication, current OSI license agreements are classified as: Academic, Reciprocal, Content, and Standards. Within this context, the key difference between the various types of open source licenses are what mechanism, if any, will be utilized to enforce open source software contractual terms and conditions. For instance, an OSI license can permit affirmative agreement to contractual terms and conditions by ‘clicking’ a designated web page text-box prior to accessing the open source software; therefore, providing prima facie evidence regarding acceptable software development practices of the licensee.
Open Source contractual obligations
Open source products have emerged as the dominant thyme for some IT development projects due to cost considerations. This rise in alternative IT development can be linked to tensions between creative practices that often involve base acquisitions requiring access to patented and/or copyrighted material and increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws governing access to patented and/or copyrighted material. Nonetheless, open source hardware and software licenses generally are legally enforceable contracts. Thus, utilizing open source hardware and/or software licensing to construct products considered necessary to improve business processes mandates due diligence to ensure legal noncompliance risks are accurately assessed and effectively redressed prior to adoption and deployment.