Why does a license matter?

“If someone is publishing his stuff on Github he must accept that it will be used by others!””

Unfortunately we still hear this critical misunderstanding often while finding open source components buried somewhere in source code; without any furtehr declaration of course. Let’s send a few words to discuss this in more detail.

In our western world protection of intellectual property is a high value. The believe that an inventor shall profit from his achievements has been accepted as the driving force of behind our wealth and developed status. That is why it has been protected by intellectual property laws. This insight counts some years already and meanwhile has been established and harmonized internationally through the Berner Convention.

Governing thought has been, that an inventor or creator of a work always will own all rights of usage, modification and all kinds of distribution. This is always valid for a certain period of time after the work has been created. Theperiod depends on the work.

An inventor or creator may transfer his rights to others. The typical form of this transfer is a license.

Without a license, all rights remain with the creator for his protection!

If no license exists, for the protection of the creator, all rights will be assumed as not transferred. Therefor each user of a component without license starts walking on ice. In general nothing might happen immediately. But who knows what will be in the future? Success might make jealous, motivations might change over time. Happy times for all of those, who own a license they may rely on!

But not only that there might be some contributors of open source software getting nasty. There is another relevant aspect of licenses. They also clarify the terms when the right to use is transferred. this will protect you from a usage without right.

In our hemisphere the usage of protected works without right is assumed a criminal act. This might not only cause immense financial damages due to call backs or branding impacts. But also a criminal investigation might be caused.  In some countries this does not even require a plaintiff. This role will be taken by the prosecutor automatically triggered by a suitable  evidence, irrelevant of the source (competition, former employee, original inventor).

To prevent all kinds of damage, it is highly recommended to ensure the availability of and conformity with a license!

To prevent damage, it is highly recommended to avoid using components without a license. But to achieve this, it is essential to know what has been used to build the software and what are the resulting obligations.

TrustSource has been developed to automate this task. Applying the automated scanning you may detect early which components are used and which licenses – or even no licenses – are related.

Our architects may help you to manage critical cases  or identify alternative solutions. Do not wait, start right now in creating transparency!