Is Community and Commercial Open Source Possible?

Matt Assay asked the question ‘Is commerical open source possible?’, citing an article about Larry Lessig comments about mixing community and commerce.   I have not read Lessig’s new book ‘Remix‘ but it seems he claims community and commerce don’t mix.  Money quote:

Money in the sharing economy is not just inappropriate; it is poisonous. And ‘helping out’ is not just rare in the commercial economy. It is downright weird.”

In Matt’s response I think he is correct to say:

I don’t think, however, that the conflict is between community and commercial. The conflict arises when a company tries to feed its community and commercial customers from the same bucket of bits.

This is actually the secret of the Eclipse Foundation; we help establish the buckets for the commercial customers and community participants.  Organizations are able to collaborate and share their work in an open source community.  The Eclipse Foundation, through our governance model, development process and license establishes a home for this collaboration and community.

At the same time, companies can build commercial products on top of the Eclipse technology.  They are able to offer their customers valued add technology and services to their paying customers.

Community and commercial definitely mix for open source but you need to do it carefully.   We see this model repeated over and over within the Eclipse ecosystem and we seem to be getting pretty good at it. 🙂

One Response to Is Community and Commercial Open Source Possible?

  1. I’ve definitely seen conflict. It usually arises when a company finds itself competing with the ever improving quality and functionality of community product. Customers start wondering why they’re paying you the bucks when they can just go the community to get their bits and fix their bugs. Companies need to keep on top of that line between commercial and community and they don’t necessarily have control of it, which frustrates the business guys to no end.

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