Free Software, Licensing Issues during the procurement process

I spent several hours wondering about the open source licensing and how free “free”¬†software really is.

For example it seems some open source licenses say their software is free to use but then they also say if you distribute it as a product or service then you have to make the entire program public.

I guess that is where the ‘catch’ is. For example I noticed some open source products have a mirror ‘commercial’ license option. There is large volume of fine print to absorb.

Ultimately I think that when deciding to use such open source products, one has to be very careful to read and understand it. Based on how I was reading, it seems that the key is whether or not you have a “commercial distribution”. If you simply use the program in your personal use and not selling it, you are fine. As soon as you start distributing it, you must include the license and make source code open. I’m still studying this area, I’m not an expert so please do your own research.

Many IT workers don’t bother to look too carefully about the licensing of ‘free’ software. However I believe being knowledge about how licensing will help you make better decisions in your development and IT work.