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A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 2: OSS Licenses and Legalities

Friday Jan 3rd 2020 by Andrew Updegrove

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration. Indeed, the essential innovation that launched free and open source software was not Richard Stallmans GNU Project, but his announcement of a revolutionary new licensing philosophy, and the actual license agreements needed to put that philosophy into effect. Only later did global collaboration among developers explode, riding the wave of Stallman's licenses, Linus Torvald's pioneering work in creating the distributed development process, and rapidly increasing telecommunications bandwidth. In this installment, we'll explore how Stallman's philosophy spread and forked, and where it has taken us to today.

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