The Open Source Promise

The recent fuss over Sparrow reminds me of something a friend was doing the other day on Pinterest. She was copying and pasting the images out of the site into a Word document. Mind you she hates Word. I told her she could pin it to her own board and her response was: “Why bother? They’ll just close the site down in a couple years and I’ll lose everything. This way, I know I’ll have it.”

Unfortunately this proposal doesn’t work for highly trafficked sites that require a team of dedicated engineers to keep it operating but it would work for Sparrow and a number of other useful applications that have disappeared.

The Open Source Promise.

The company promises that the product Foo will be open sourced should the company be acquired or shutdown and stop maintaining the product.

The benefits to the customer are obvious. We still get to use the software and help keep it going. The benefits to the company are numerous as well. It helps the company brand as their product gains popularity. It bolsters the parent company’s brand as they acquire their talent. There’s little need to worry about the brand since the company was going to kill it anyway but if lawyers are involved, it could easily be ripped out and left for the community to rebrand it as part of the transition plan.

I would love to see a variation of this license available online but we need baby steps.

So if you’re looking to quell some of our fears or shine a better light on your new corporate overlords, put up an Open Source Promise.