Many computer programs operate on an open source idea, making the software available in source code for free to users. The open source software (OSS) is not copyrighted like normal software, and users are able to study the entire code, make changes and improve the software as they see fit. The perk to making software freely available in this way is that the software developer often receives improvements suggestions and collaboration from users in the field.
However, there are many other guidelines that apply to open source software. Distribution, for example, cannot limit users from using the code to their benefit: If a user develops a new software that uses part of the source code, the user can sell their new software without reimbursing or paying royalties to the open source code developer. This can make OSS unappealing to some developers. Additionally, if another software is developed that must use the OSS software to operate, the OSS must remain available to customers for free or for a reasonable fee. If, however, the license specifically states that the OSS cannot be distributed if modified, patch files must be available.
Another guideline that must be followed concerns discrimination: The OSS can never discriminate against persons, groups or fields. The OSS must be available free to everyone for modification, even if these people are competitors. Furthermore, licenses cannot be product-specific, cannot restrict other software sales and cannot be based upon any technology or style. All license-specific rules make sure that the OSS does no infringe upon other software rights.
Although OSS provides software developers an arena to try out their software with and receive feedback from technologically savvy users, there are a lot of rules and guidelines that may leave an OSS license unappealing. Developers should weigh their options when considering an OSS.