Monday, March 30, 2015

Open Source & Intellectual Property

Open source contribution is regarded as a "virtue" for hackers, and intellectual property as a foundation for modern 'creative economies'. Ideally these contrasting ideas needn't conflict, but special consideration is warranted during pivotal moments in the growth of a business.

Open source code offers a reserve of knowledge and wealth, without which, this project (along with many others) simply would not exist. Publicly available code enhancements and solutions can be likened to 'good-faith donations' to the community, the value being inherent in the coder's investment of time and effort. The philosophy of 'open source' fosters environments in which one can't help but occasionally wish to 'pay it forward' by personally contributing to the priceless reserves of available code. Intellectual property law, by my shallow understanding, offers, in exchange for demonstrable novelty, limited government-mandated financial protection (a temporal buffer, if I may) against mimicry. All things able to be replicated eventually (to date this post, '3d printers' will soon be able to reliably reproduce [for example] musical records, which could have unforeseen implications on the music industry), 'intellectual property' offers financial security as incentive towards innovation.

Unfamiliar with every detail, and without proper council, I am left to lean towards the merits of intellectual property law, temporarily eschewing any attempt to foster an open source community. But if I abide by one, I must regard the other. As such, I (as 'Fire') currently seek technical partners and legal protections, intending to revisit open source involvement at a later date.
(Edit: specifically, Fire will become involved in the open source community once its core business and functionality has been established, and begins producing excess, well polished code.)