The rights ratchet model uses open source to secure adoption and market acceptance for a stack or infrastructure element and then gradually removes viable open source freedoms as the founders seek to control their customers and ecosystem and increase revenue from them. It's not a new phenomenon—companies have been gaming open source this way for decades. Yet developers keep getting caught out as yet another big name clicks the final step of the ratchet and goes closed. Most recently it's been database companies but there are other earlier examples.
How can you spot the early signs? This talk will explain the model, and suggest red flags to look out for if you don't want to end up locked-in to a once community-open project that really only saw community as a synonym for "customer."
Simon Phipps is managing director of Meshed Insights Ltd, providing policy and practice guidance on OSPOs, open source and digital rights. His career has included early engagement in establishing Java, XML and blogs as computer industry technologies as well as contributions to open standards in a variety of fields. As chief open source officer at Sun Microsystems he supervised one of the industry's first OSPOs in the open source relicensing of Solaris Unix, Java and many other software systems. As President at the Open Source Initiative he transformed the charity into a representative body. He continues to volunteer and write widely.