Open source and adding value

There has been an interesting shift in Intellectual Property over the last few years. Particularly, the rise in popularity of open-source software. Companies like MySQL, Zend, RedHat, and others are pioneering a new way of doing business. Their core “product”, the software, is freely available. Not only is the product free to use, but you’re free to modify and re-distribute it.

I think this marks an interesting change in focus. What do these companies do to create value? The typical, old-fashioned model is you create something once (some Intellectual Property, IP) and you sell it many times over (Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, etc). Yet these new companies give you the IP for free.

Where many of these companies make money is by charging for additional services. Support, consultancy. Some also charge for alternative licences if you want to include their free software within your non-free software.

Personally, I like this direction. I support the idea of people being paid when they actually do something, rather than being paid many times for the same work. I think music will move in this direction over time, where fans pay for concerts, for events, but not for the music that has already been recorded. Interesting times.

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