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The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology. Before the term open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, and the attendant need for massive retooling of the computing source code. Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. Subsequently, the new phrase “open-source software” was born to describe the environment that the new copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues created.
The open source model includes the concept of concurrent yet different agendas and differing approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies. A main principle and practice of open source software development is peer production by bartering and collaboration, with the end-product, source-material, “blueprints,” and documentation available at no cost to the public. This is increasingly being applied in other fields of endeavor, such as biotechnology.
The concept of open source and free sharing of technological information existed long before computers. For example, cooking recipes have been shared since the beginning of human culture. Open source can pertain to businesses and to computers, software and technology.
In the early years of automobile development, a group of capital monopolists owned the rights to a 2 cycle gasoline engine patent originally filed by George B. Selden. By controlling this patent, they were able to monopolize the industry and force car manufacturers to adhere to their demands, or risk a lawsuit. In 1911, independent automaker Henry Ford won a challenge to the Selden patent. The result was that the Selden patent became virtually worthless and a new association (which would eventually become the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association) was formed. The new association instituted a cross-licensing agreement among all US auto manufacturers: although each company would develop technology and file patents, these patents were shared openly and without the exchange of money between all the manufacturers. Until the US entered World War 2, 92 Ford patents were being used freely by other manufacturers who were in turn making use of 515 patents from other companies, all without lawsuits or the exchange of money.
Very similar to open standards, researchers with access to Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) used a process called Request for Comments to develop telecommunication network protocols. This collaborative process of the 1960s led to the birth of the Internet in 1969.
Early instances of open source and free software include IBM‘s source releases of its operating systems and other programs in the 1950s and 1960s, and the SHARE user group that formed to facilitate the exchange of software. Open source on the Internet began when the Internet was just a message board, and progressed to more advanced presentation and sharing forms like a Web site. There are now many Web sites, organizations and businesses that promote open source sharing of everything from computer code to mechanics of improving a product, technique, or medical advancement.
The label “open source” was adopted by some people in the free software movement at a strategy session held at Palo Alto, California, in reaction to Netscape‘s January 1998 announcement of a source code release for Navigator. The group of individuals at the session included Christine Peterson who suggested “open source”, Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, Sam Ockman, Michael Tiemann and Eric S. Raymond. Over the next week, Raymond and others worked on spreading the word. Linus Torvalds gave an all-important sanction the following day. Phil Hughes offered a pulpit in Linux Journal. Richard Stallman, pioneer of the free software movement, flirted with adopting the term, but changed his mind. Those people who adopted the term used the opportunity before the release of Navigator’s source code to free themselves of the ideological and confrontational connotations of the term “free software”. Netscape released its source code under the Netscape Public License and later under the Mozilla Public License.
The term was given a big boost at an event organized in April 1998 by technology publisher Tim O’Reilly. Originally titled the “Freeware Summit” and later known as the “Open Source Summit”, The event brought together the leaders of many of the most important free and open source projects, including Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum, Michael Tiemann, Paul Vixie, Jamie Zawinski of Netscape, and Eric Raymond. At that meeting, the confusion caused by the name free software was brought up. Tiemann argued for “sourceware” as a new term, while Raymond argued for “open source.” The assembled developers took a vote, and the winner was announced at a press conference that evening. Five days later, Raymond made the first public call to the free software community to adopt the new term. The Open Source Initiative was formed shortly thereafter.
Starting in the early 2000s, a number of companies began to publish a portion of their source code to claim they were open source, while keeping key parts closed. This led to the development of the now widely used terms free open source software and commercial open source software to distinguish between truly open and hybrid forms of open source.[original research?]
 Economic analysis
Most economists agree that open source candidates have an information good (also termed ‘knowledge good’) aspect. In general, this suggests that the original work involves a great deal of time, money, and effort. However, the cost of reproducing the work is very low, so that additional users may be added at zero or near zero cost — this is referred to as the marginal cost of a product. At this point, it is necessary to consider a copyright. The idea of copyright for works of authorship is to protect the incentive of making these original works. Copyright restriction then creates access costs on consumers who value the original more than making an additional copy but value the original less than its price. Thus, they will pay an access cost of this difference. Access costs also pose problems for authors who wish to create something based on another work but are not willing to pay the copyright holder for the rights to the copyrighted work. The second type of cost incurred with a copyright system is the cost of administration and enforcement of the copyright.
Being organised effectively as a consumers’ cooperative, the idea of open source is then to eliminate the access costs of the consumer and the creator by reducing the restrictions of copyright. This will lead to creation of additional works, which build upon previous work and add to greater social benefit. Additionally some proponents argue that open source also relieves society of the administration and enforcement costs of copyright. Organizations such as Creative Commons have websites where individuals can file for alternative “licenses”, or levels of restriction, for their works. These self-made protections free the general society of the costs of policing copyright infringement. Thus, on several fronts, there is an efficiency argument to be made on behalf of open sourced goods.
Others argue that society loses through open sourced goods. Because there is a loss in monetary incentive to the creation of new goods some argue that new products will not be created. This argument seems to apply particularly well to the business model where extensive research and development is done, e.g. pharmaceuticals. However, this argument ignores the fact that cost reduction for all concerned is perhaps an even better monetary incentive than is a price increase. In addition, others argue that visual art and other works of authorship should be free. These proponents of extensive open source ideals argue that monetary incentive for artists would perhaps better be derived from performances or exhibitions, in a similar fashion to the funding of provision of other types of services.
 Case study
An investigation of open source industrial symbiosis was performed by Doyle and Pearce using Google Earth. Their paper found that virtual globes coupled with open source waste information can be used to:
- reduce embodied transport energy by reducing distances to recycling facilities,
- choose end of life at recycling facilities rather than landfills, and
- establish industrial symbiosis and eco-industrial parks on known by-product synergies.
Ultimately, open source sharing of information in virtual globes provide a means to identify economically and environmentally beneficial opportunities for waste management if the data have been made available.
Many fields of study and social and political views have been affected by the growth of the concept of open source. Advocates in one field often support the expansion of open source in other fields. For example, Linus Torvalds said, “the future is open source everything.” But Eric Raymond and other founders of the open source movement have sometimes publicly argued against speculation about applications outside software, saying that strong arguments for software openness should not be weakened by overreaching into areas where the story is less compelling. The broader impacts of the open source movement, and the extent of its role in the development of new information sharing procedures, remain to be seen.
The open source movement has inspired increased transparency and liberty in other fields, including the release of biotechnology research by CAMBIA, Wikipedia, and other projects. The open-source concept has also been applied to media other than computer programs, e.g., by Creative Commons. It also constitutes an example of user innovation (see for example the book Democratizing Innovation). Often, open source is an expression where it simply means that a system is available to all who wish to work on it. The difference between crowdsourcing and open source is that open source production is a cooperative activity initiated and voluntarily undertaken by members of the public
 Computer software
Open source software is software whose source code is published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees. Open source code evolves through community cooperation. These communities are composed of individual programmers as well as very large companies. Examples of open-source software products are:
- PHP – Scripting language suited for the web
- GNU Project — “a sufficient body of free software”
- Linux — operating system kernel based on Unix
- NetBSD — operating system derived from Unix
- OpenBSD — operating system derived from Unix
- FreeBSD — operating system derived from Unix
- OpenSolaris — Unix Operating System from Sun Microsystems
- Symbian — real-time mobile operating system
- Apache — HTTP web server
- Tomcat web server — web container
- MediaWiki — wiki server software, the software that runs Wikipedia
- Alfresco — content management system
- RenovatioCMS — content management system
- Joomla — content management system
- Drupal — content management system
- TYPO3 — content management system
- WordPress — blog software
- MongoDB — document-oriented, non-relational database
- Eclipse — software development environment comprising an integrated development environment (IDE)
- Moodle — course management system or virtual learning environment
- openSIS — open source Student Information System
- osCommerce — ecommerce
- PeaZip — File archiver
- NASA World Wind — virtual globe, geobrowser
- Mozilla Firefox — web browser
- Mozilla Thunderbird — e-mail client
- OpenOffice.org — office suite
- Stockfish — chess engine series, considered to be one of the strongest chess programs of the world
- 7-Zip — File archiver
Open-source hardware is hardware whose initial specification, usually in a software format, are published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the hardware and source code without paying royalties or fees. Open source hardware evolves through community cooperation. These communities are composed of individual hardware/software developers, hobbyists, as well as very large companies. Examples of open source hardware initiatives are:
- Openmoko: a family of open source mobile phones, including the hardware specification and the operating system.
- OpenRISC: an open source microprocessor family, with architecture specification licensed under GNU GPL and implementation under LGPL.
- Sun Microsystems‘s OpenSPARC T1 Multicore processor. Sun has released it under GPL.
- Arduino, a microcontroller platform for hobbyists, artists and designers.
- Simputer, an open hardware handheld computer, designed in India for use in environments where computing devices such as personal computers are deemed inappropriate.
- LEON: A family of open source microprocessors distributed in a library with peripheral IP cores, open SPARC V8 specification, implementation available under GNU GPL.
- OpenCola — a cola soft drink, similar to Coca-Cola and Pepsi, whose recipe is open source and developed by volunteers. The taste is said to be comparable to that of the standard beverages. Most corporations producing beverages hold their formulas as closely guarded secrets.
- Vores Øl beer — a beer created by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen together with Superflex, a Copenhagen-based artist collective, to illustrate how open source concepts might be applied outside the digital world.
- In 2002, the beer company Brewtopia in Australia started an open source brewery and invited the general population to be involved in the development and ownership of the brewery, and to vote on the development of every aspect of its beer, Blowfly, and its road to market. In return for their feedback and input, individuals received shares in the company, which is now publicly traded on a stock exchange in Australia. The company has always adhered to its Open Source roots and is the only beer company in the world that allows the public to design, customise and develop its own beers online.
- Coffee — capsule-based beverage systems such as Nestle‘s Nespresso or Krups‘ Tassimo turn home-brewed coffee from an inherently “open-source” beverage into a product limited by the specific range of capsules made available by the system manufacturers.
 Digital content
- Open-content projects organized by the Wikimedia Foundation — Sites such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary have embraced the open-content GFDL and Creative Commons content licenses. These licenses were designed to adhere to principles similar to various open-source software development licenses. Many of these licenses ensure that content remains free for re-use, that source documents are made readily available to interested parties, and that changes to content are accepted easily back into the system. An important site embracing open source-like ideals is Project Gutenberg, which posts many books on which the copyright has expired and are thus in the Public Domain, ensuring that anyone can use that content for any purpose whatsoever.
 Health and science
- Pharmaceuticals — There have been several proposals for open-source pharmaceutical development, which led to the establishment of the Tropical Disease Initiative. There are also a number of not-for-profit “virtual pharmas” such as the Institute for One World Health and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative.
- Research — The Science Commons was created as an alternative to the expensive legal costs of sharing and reusing scientific works in journals etc.
- Research — The Open Source Science Project was created to increase the ability for students to participate in the research process by providing them access to microfunding — which, in turn, offers non-researchers the opportunity to directly invest, and follow, cutting-edge scientific research. All data and methodology is subsequently published in an openly accessible manner under a Creative Commons fair use license.
An open-source robot is a robot whose blueprints, schematics, and/or source code are released under an open source model.
- Open source principles can be applied to technical areas such as digital communication protocols and data storage formats.
- Open design — which involves applying open source methodologies to the design of artifacts and systems in the physical world. Very nascent but has huge potential.
- Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that are designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. These technologies must be “appropriate technology” (AT) — meaning technology that is designed with special consideration to the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, and economical aspects of the community it is intended for.
- Teaching — which involves applying the concepts of open source to instruction using a shared web space as a platform to improve upon learning, organizational, and management challenges. An example of an Open Source Courseware is the Java Education & Development Initiative (JEDI).
- There are few examples of business information (methodologies, advice, guidance, practices) using the open source model, although this is another case where the potential is enormous. ITIL is close to open source. It uses the Cathedral model (no mechanism exists for user contribution) and the content must be bought for a fee that is small by business consulting standards (hundreds of British pounds). Various checklists are published by government, banks or accounting firms. Possibly the only example of free, bazaar-model open source business information is Core Practice.
 Society and culture
Open source culture is the creative practice of appropriation and free sharing of found and created content. Examples include collage, found footage film, music, and appropriation art. Open source culture is one in which fixations, works entitled to copyright protection, are made generally available. Participants in the culture can modify those products and redistribute them back into the community or other organizations.
The rise of open-source culture in the 20th century resulted from a growing tension between creative practices that involve appropriation, and therefore require access to content that is often copyrighted, and increasingly restrictive intellectual property laws and policies governing access to copyrighted content. The two main ways in which intellectual property laws became more restrictive in the 20th century were extensions to the term of copyright (particularly in the United States) and penalties, such as those articulated in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), placed on attempts to circumvent anti-piracy technologies.
Although artistic appropriation is often permitted under fair use doctrines, the complexity and ambiguity of these doctrines creates an atmosphere of uncertainty among cultural practitioners. Also, the protective actions of copyright owners create what some call a “chilling effect” among cultural practitioners.
In the late 20th century, cultural practitioners began to adopt the intellectual property licensing techniques of free software and open-source software to make their work more freely available to others, including the Creative Commons.
The idea of an “open source” culture runs parallel to “Free Culture,” but is substantively different. Free culture is a term derived from the free software movement, and in contrast to that vision of culture, proponents of Open Source Culture (OSC) maintain that some intellectual property law needs to exist to protect cultural producers. Yet they propose a more nuanced position than corporations have traditionally sought. Instead of seeing intellectual property law as an expression of instrumental rules intended to uphold either natural rights or desirable outcomes, an argument for OSC takes into account diverse goods (as in “the Good life”) and ends.
One way of achieving the goal of making the fixations of cultural work generally available is to maximally utilize technology and digital media. In keeping with Moore’s law‘s prediction about processors, the cost of digital media and storage plummeted in the late 20th Century. Consequently, the marginal cost of digitally duplicating anything capable of being transmitted via digital media dropped to near zero. Combined with an explosive growth in personal computer and technology ownership, the result is an increase in general population’s access to digital media. This phenomenon facilitated growth in open source culture because it allowed for rapid and inexpensive duplication and distribution of culture. Where the access to the majority of culture produced prior to the advent of digital media was limited by other constraints of proprietary and potentially “open” mediums, digital media is the latest technology with the potential to increase access to cultural products. Artists and users who choose to distribute their work digitally face none of the physical limitations that traditional cultural producers have been typically faced with. Accordingly, the audience of an open source culture faces little physical cost in acquiring digital media.
Open source culture precedes Richard Stallman‘s codification of free software with the creation of the Free Software Foundation. As the public began to communicate through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) like FidoNet, places like Sourcery Systems BBS were dedicated to providing source code to Public Domain, Shareware and Freeware programs.
Essentially born out of a desire for increased general access to digital media, the Internet is open source culture’s most valuable asset. It is questionable whether the goals of an open source culture could be achieved without the Internet. The global network not only fosters an environment where culture can be generally accessible, but also allows for easy and inexpensive redistribution of culture back into various communities. Some reasons for this are as follows.
First, the Internet allows even greater access to inexpensive digital media and storage. Instead of users being limited to their own facilities and resources, they are granted access to a vast network of facilities and resources, some free. Sites such as Archive.org offer up free web space for anyone willing to license their work under a Creative Commons license. The resulting cultural product is then available to download free (generally accessible) to anyone with an Internet connection.
Second, users are granted unprecedented access to each other. Older analog technologies such as the telephone or television have limitations on the kind of interaction users can have. In the case of television there is little, if any interaction between users participating on the network. And in the case of the telephone, users rarely interact with any more than a couple of their known peers. On the Internet, however, users have the potential to access and meet millions of their peers. This aspect of the Internet facilitates the modification of culture as users are able to collaborate and communicate with each other across international and cultural boundaries. The speed in which digital media travels on the Internet in turn facilitates the redistribution of culture.
Through various technologies such as peer-to-peer networks and blogs, cultural producers can take advantage of vast social networks in order to distribute their products. As opposed to traditional media distribution, redistributing digital media on the Internet can be virtually costless. Technologies such as BitTorrent and Gnutella take advantage of various characteristics of the Internet protocol (TCP/IP) in an attempt to totally decentralize file distribution.
- Open politics (sometimes known as Open source politics) — is a term used to describe a political process that uses Internet technologies such as blogs, email and polling to provide for a rapid feedback mechanism between political organizations and their supporters. There is also an alternative conception of the term Open source politics which relates to the development of public policy under a set of rules and processes similar to the Open Source Software movement.
- Open source governance — is similar to open source politics, but it applies more to the democratic process and promotes the freedom of information.
Open Source ethics is split into two strands:
- Open Source Ethics as an Ethical School — Charles Ess and David Berry are researching whether ethics can learn anything from an open source approach. Ess famously even defined the AoIR Research Guidelines as an example of open source ethics.
- Open Source Ethics as a Professional Body of Rules — This is based principally on the computer ethics school, studying the questions of ethics and professionalism in the computer industry in general and software development in particular.
Open source journalism — referred to the standard journalistic techniques of news gathering and fact checking, and reflected a similar term that was in use from 1992 in military intelligence circles, open source intelligence. It is now commonly used to describe forms of innovative publishing of online journalism, rather than the sourcing of news stories by a professional journalist. In the December 25, 2006 issue of TIME magazine this is referred to as user created content and listed alongside more traditional open source projects such as OpenSolaris and Linux.
Weblogs, or blogs, are another significant platform for open source culture. Blogs consist of periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts, using a technology that makes webpages easily updatable with no understanding of design, code, or file transfer required. While corporations, political campaigns and other formal institutions have begun using these tools to distribute information, many blogs are used by individuals for personal expression, political organizing, and socializing. Some, such as LiveJournal or WordPress, utilize open source software that is open to the public and can be modified by users to fit their own tastes. Whether the code is open or not, this format represents a nimble tool for people to borrow and re-present culture; whereas traditional websites made the illegal reproduction of culture difficult to regulate, the mutability of blogs makes “open sourcing” even more uncontrollable since it allows a larger portion of the population to replicate material more quickly in the public sphere.
Messageboards are another platform for open source culture. Messageboards (also known as discussion boards or forums), are places online where people with similar interests can congregate and post messages for the community to read and respond to. Messageboards sometimes have moderators who enforce community standards of etiquette such as banning users who are spammers. Other common board features are private messages (where users can send messages to one another) as well as chat (a way to have a real time conversation online) and image uploading. Some messageboards use phpBB, which is a free open source package. Where blogs are more about individual expression and tend to revolve around their authors, messageboards are about creating a conversation amongst its users where information can be shared freely and quickly. Messageboards are a way to remove intermediaries from everyday life — for instance, instead of relying on commercials and other forms of advertising, one can ask other users for frank reviews of a product, movie or CD. By removing the cultural middlemen, messageboards help speed the flow of information and exchange of ideas.
OpenDocument is an open document file format for saving and exchanging editable office documents such as text documents (including memos, reports, and books), spreadsheets, charts, and presentations. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format such as OpenDocument avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business, raises their prices, changes their software, or changes their licensing terms to something less favorable.
Open source movie production is either an open call system in which a changing crew and cast collaborate in movie production, a system in which the end result is made available for re-use by others or in which exclusively open source products are used in the production. The 2006 movie Elephants Dream is said to be the “world’s first open movie”, created entirely using open source technology.
An open source documentary film has a production process allowing the open contributions of archival material, footage, and other filmic elements, both in unedited and edited form. By doing so, on-line contributors become part of the process of creating the film, helping to influence the editorial and visual material to be used in the documentary, as well as its thematic development. The first open source documentary film to go into production “The American Revolution”,” which will examine the role that WBCN-FM in Boston played in the cultural, social and political changes locally and nationally from 1968 to 1974, is being produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media and the non-profit The Fund for Independent Media. Open Source Cinema is a website to create Basement Tapes, a feature documentary about copyright in the digital age, co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Open Source Filmmaking refers to a form of filmmaking that takes a method of idea formation from open source software, but in this case the ‘source’ for a film maker is raw unedited footage rather than programming code. It can also refer to a method of filmmaking where the process of creation is ‘open’ i.e. a disparate group of contributors, at different times contribute to the final piece.
Open-IPTV is IPTV that is not limited to one recording studio, production studio, or cast. Open-IPTV uses the Internet or other means to pool efforts and resources together to create an online community that all contributes to a show.
Within the academic community, there is discussion about expanding what could be called the “intellectual commons” (analogous to the Creative Commons). Proponents of this view have hailed the Connexions Project at Rice University, OpenCourseWare project at MIT, Eugene Thacker‘s article on “Open Source DNA“, the “Open Source Cultural Database” and Wikipedia as examples of applying open source outside the realm of computer software.
Open source curricula are instructional resources whose digital source can be freely used, distributed and modified.
Another strand to the academic community is in the area of research. Many funded research projects produce software as part of their work. There is an increasing interest in making the outputs of such projects available under an open source license. In the UK the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has developed a policy on open source software. JISC also funds a development service called OSS Watch which acts as an advisory service for higher and further education institutions wishing to use, contribute to and develop open source software.
 Innovation communities
The principle of sharing predates the open source movement; for example, the free sharing of information has been institutionalized in the scientific enterprise since at least the 19th century. Open source principles have always been part of the scientific community. The sociologist Robert K. Merton described the four basic elements of the community — universalism (an international perspective), communism (sharing information), disinterestedness (removing one’s personal views from the scientific inquiry) and organized skepticism (requirements of proof and review) that accurately describe the scientific community today. These principles are, in part, complemented by US law’s focus on protecting expression and method but not the ideas themselves. There is also a tradition of publishing research results to the scientific community instead of keeping all such knowledge proprietary. One of the recent initiatives in scientific publishing has been open access — the idea that research should be published in such a way that it is free and available to the public. There are currently many open access journals where the information is available free online, however most journals do charge a fee (either to users or libraries for access). The Budapest Open Access Initiative is an international effort with the goal of making all research articles available free on the Internet. The National Institutes of Health has recently proposed a policy on “Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information.” This policy would provide a free, searchable resource of NIH-funded results to the public and with other international repositories six months after its initial publication. The NIH’s move is an important one because there is significant amount of public funding in scientific research. Many of the questions have yet to be answered — the balancing of profit vs. public access, and ensuring that desirable standards and incentives do not diminish with a shift to open access.
Farmavita.Net — Community of Pharmaceuticals Executives have recently proposed new business model of Open Source Pharmaceuticals. The project is targeted to development and sharing of know-how for manufacture of essential and life saving medicines. It is mainly dedicated to the countries with less developed economies where local pharmaceutical research and development resources are insufficient for national needs. It will be limited to generic (off-patent) medicines with established use. By the definition, medicinal product have a “well-established use” if is used for at least 15 years, with recognized efficacy and an acceptable level of safety. In that event, the expensive clinical test and trial results could be replaced by appropriate scientific literature.
New NGO communities are starting to use the open source technology as a tool. One example is the Open Source Youth Network started in 2007 in Lisboa by ISCA members.