XXX loves opensource…

…that’s why we published our product on OSI-compatible license! We <3 open-source!

Well, does Microsoft/Google/Apple/Netflix/XXX really love open-source?

No, they don’t. In fact they do more to extinguish open source by fighting them with patent wars, you don’t hear about, developing DRM, you hear about when it’s too late and dropping support for some key-products on open source platforms. Skype on Linux, anyone? Google Drive client on Linux? DRM enabled by default in browsers, anyone?

Google published their TensorFlow, Apple open-sourced Swift, Microsoft gave us VisualStudioCode which is really nice of them. But they don’t do it because they love open-source, so let’s stop pretending that they do and repeating it at every turn.

Releasing such software on a permissive license can’t hurt them; in the worst-case scenario no one will notice their software and keep going; in our reality, someone will improve some parts of the code base. Fix typos in the documentation, optimize some methods, get more interested in working with a tool and get hired at XXX. In no way open sourcing such code can hurt their business. Yes, not every company can afford open-sourcing their software, but corporations can, so they do it. It’s part of business strategy, when you can afford it and you benefit from it, you do it. For us, smaller companies and communities, we will base our future project on YYY framework that is on a permissive license, because we can afford it. It doesn’t cost anything, we don’t have to publish our changes, and in no manner will we be able to afford maintaining, updating to new standards a fork of Swift, TensorFlow or anything else. It will be cheaper for us to contribute the changes to the project, so we can get the new feature of YYY In the next versions, and keep it maintained for free (or at lower cost).

Who benefits?
Corporations. They are gaining monopoly, getting hundreds of developers for free, thousands man-hours spent on issues no one in their company bothered to pick up before open-souring and they don’t have to pay for it! Independent developers are more interested in contributing to XXX product, just to get a few lines in their CV about their changes being accepted to Swift.

Who loses?
Community, because we become more and more dependent on Google, Apple, Microsoft etc. If your pull request doesn’t match their business model of a product, it won’t be accepted, so you won’t be able to maintain your fork for long. We don’t have finances and human resources that could keep the projects alive, so we are forced to contribute to their wealth for free, if we want anything from them.

One more thing. Let’s don’t forget about companies Google bought and then killed after a few years. Microsoft used EEE strategy for decades. Apple took BSD userland to create OSX and didn’t contribute back. Microsoft took IPv6 implementation from BSD and didn’t contribute back. Nextflix and Google pushed on DRM in HTML, technology that was designed to be open for everyone and everywhere.

But hey! They open-sourced some code, it looks good for their business, so let’s be naive and love them!

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