Like everyone else who has dealt with Open Source software and libraries I have been seriously confused over what I could and couldn't legally do and the risks associated with developing open source. I have decided to write this page to assist those who are in the starting out in earth science software licensing.
So do You Really Want to be a 'Good' Guy?
I could go on forever about virtue and consequential ethics, but doesn't the bottom line trump these principles each time? I could also go on about the many articles spouting the benefits of open source for business but is it good path to go down?
The geoscientific sector is exceptionally unique. We are a small, highly specialized industry with many different sub-specialties and it is even more in our best interest to invest in this open business model. We have all seen the result of one or two companies dominating in highly specialized areas... outrageously expensive software licenses, limitations on software and equipment use, anti-competitive behavior and subversive tactics to steal the oppositions technology whilst internalizing potentially revolutionary ideas. So is there a good reason to continue along this trajectory? It promotes monopoly, inhibits start ups, squeezes dollars out of small to mid size companies and encourages a closed stagnant industry.
On the contrary most geophysical software packages have small user bases and profiting using open source paradigms is impossible without larger industry support. At the present I believe only open seismic software developers could survive. I developed an open source electromagnetic package during my PhD and I found the experience eye opening. Over its 3 year duration and 1500+ downloads, nobody submitted any fixes to the main source code or offered financial contributions (probably [...]