What is “open source” software?

Not every type of software will include a restrictive license. “Open source” software is any software that can be accessed, changed, used, and shared without charge. Open source software is the same as “free software.”

There is no need to obtain an individual license because the developers of the software have chosen to share it with the world without restrictions. Nonetheless, open source software still technically has a license; it is simply not very restrictive.

Open source software can be developed by anyone and must meet 10 specific criteria for it to be labelled “open source.”

  1. Free redistribution
  2. The program must include the source code
  3. Derivative work must be permitted (modification and alterations to the original software)
  4. Restrictions on distribution of the source code is allowed if the software is modified, but only if patch files can be distributed as well
  5. No discrimination against any group or person
  6. No discrimination against any particular field
  7. Rights associated with the license must apply to everyone that receives a redistribution of the software
  8. The license cannot be specific to a product
  9. The license cannot restrict the use of other software
  10. The license must not be predicated on any style of interface or individual technology

Open source software allows developers the ability to learn and continue developing their own software by collaborating with others. Software sometimes starts out as open source in its early phases of development.

Open source software can be used for commercial purposes, and there is no way to restrict the utilization of the software. Developers also cannot control who uses the software and for what purpose, which is often a concern for those who may be using the software for illegal or unethical reasons.

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