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Perens on a Decade of Open Source and the Problem of Patents

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As of last week, open source is 10 years old. To commemorate the birthday, internetnews.com's Sean Michael Kerner interviewed open source evangelist Bruce Perens. Perens is credited with beginning the open source movement when he published the open source definition on Feb. 9, 1998.

 

The progress open source has made in 10 years surprises even Perens, it seems. He told internetnews.com:

Had I known we would have this embarrassment of riches of so many open source licenses, I would have thought more about how to keep that from happening. When you promote something this radical to business you don't really expect that they'll all jump in.

But they have. Even Microsoft, which was once considered one of open source's "big problems," is participating in the movement. The company has OSI-approved software licenses and has forged partnerships with several open source vendors to work toward interoperability.

 

One big problem that Perens still has with Microsoft's involvement in open source, he says, is patents:

Open source developers write their own software so they don't have a problem with copyright, which only applies to a particular program, not all possible programs. Patents can apply to all possible programs that do a particular thing.

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