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Protecting developer benefits in an open source project


From: Bilgehan . Balban
Subject: Protecting developer benefits in an open source project
Date: 10 Nov 2005 04:38:31 -0800
User-agent: G2/0.2

Hi,

How could the original founder of an open source project, protect and
keep his project as his own, and prevent other external factors ( a
company or group of developers) from getting his source, invest a lot
of money on the base project, start their own businness out of it, and
leave the original developer out of the way?

It may well happen that, a promising open source project is abandoned
due to the fact that some company just has enough money to raise the
leverage on the project and claim his own *branch*, make it effectively
better than the original *base* and attract all open source developers
to this branch, who would otherwise continue developing on the *base*.

A second issue is, how could copyrights prevent this problem, if at
all? Would it be unethical, or inappropriate to say, "this project is
mine, and no entity can start a project with the same purpose, using my
sources", at least temporarily until the project gets enough leverage
that no external factor can interfere? Perhaps even doing so, since
your sources are publicly accessed, one could easily grasp your novel
idea and rewrite it from scratch, having had the financial resources
that you don't, and "raise above the water like olive oil" (is what
Turks say for this). Or maybe this is the fact of life, and projects
should continue by tough, natural selection? Maybe if it's a really
novel idea, get patents for it, not to put it as an obstacle to others
but just to be in control of what you've started. How does/should it
work?

Thanks,
Bahadir



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