February 20, 2024

ignorance as a business model

Can Ignorance be a Business Model? Surely, especially if it is not your ignorance! Counting on ignorance is exactly what many companies in “Open Source” are counting on, in particular ignorance on things like Open Source Licenses and their compatibility. 

You may be surprised how many developers, especially unsophisticated ones, think that if something is on GitHub (you can see the source) it is Open Source and can be used in the project in any way they like.

When starting using “Based on Open Source”, “Open Source Compatible” or just “Open”, highlight some components that are Open Source, and rest assured folks will be confused, just the way you want them to be.

In any serious organization, though, unsophisticated engineers are not the only ones involved in getting code to production. If you’re lucky the license incompatibility will be discovered when it is too late to avoid the dependence on that code, so the only way is to plead with the vendor about the commercial license on the terms they can’t refuse.

If a company is unlucky enough not to spot “non-compliance” before the code gets into production, the Vendor Sales are very likely to discover such non-compliance and have even higher leverage. 

Want to avoid getting into trouble? Fight the ignorance in your team. When it comes to Open Source, ensure developers have the right basic understanding of what Open Source is, understand the license for the code they are looking to use, and have rules in your organization to ensure license compatibility as well as security in your organization.

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