Legal Issues Essay: Open Versus Closed

3366 words - 14 pages

Legal Issues Essay: Open verses Closed
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Legal Issues Essay: Open versus Closed

Abstract
This essay discuses the relative merits and demerits of open source and closed source software in terms of the effect on the consumer. The impact that closed or open source software has on the individual consumer is varied, therefore in the following sections arguments will be set forth for both points of view. An overall conclusion is eventually drawn from these arguments using varied sources of information as basis for the final distinction between Open or Closed software in terms of benefits or detriments.
Legal Issues Essay: Open verses Closed Laurence Moore
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Contents
1. Introduction ...view middle of the document...

Proprietary licences, in relation to software, describe restrictions on use of that software in terms of redistribution, utilisation and alteration. Proprietary licence software is provided in binary files, in a machine only readable format to prevent any alteration or analysis of patented information. Open source software makes the source code of a project, which is human readable, freely available. In relation to the consumer, both types of software present viable choices as they are both developed in well established and legitimate development paradigms. [4]
2. Open Source
Open source software benefits from a wide community of developers focused on building software with a high level of dependability, usability and cross platform integration. The nature of software development much like other engineering principles is such that the pervasive design techniques often employed can be improved by a greater number of developers. The premise in this case is simple; the larger the amount of people working on a project, the higher the likelihood that errors will be intercepted and eradicated. Similarly, the larger the community working on a project the faster it will be completed as the efforts and expertise of a larger number can be exploited. Therefore the likelihood of highly effective or novel solutions being created is far greater than in development taking place in an isolated team. [1] Indeed the entire life cycle of open source software maintains this ethos of collective mitigation of tasks. Once a piece of software is released, a dedicated community will
Legal Issues Essay: Open verses Closed Laurence Moore
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continue to improve the project; providing advice and maintaining software in addition to releasing improved versions. [2]
The philosophy behind open source software generally speaking is to take a more ethical approach to software creation and distribution. One high profile open source project is Ubuntu, a distribution of Linux aimed at introducing high levels of usability to a non specialist demographic. The literal translation of “ubuntu” from Zulu is “humanity”, generally given to mean: “A person with ubuntu is open and available to others”. [3] In this case such a title is apt as the intention of the developers is primarily philanthropic. Ubuntu provides a system which democratises production of digital output, from documents to executable code. It is therefore a reasonable conclusion that in most cases open source software is more focused on improving general understanding of various disciplines and providing educational tools as opposed to purely profit driven motives. [4]
The motive in most cases for the creation of open source software is to ensure that the overall product available to the end user is entirely self contained. The ethos therefore is to provide a system whereby no additional components are required for the system to perform its task. It could be argued that providing an operating system which does not...

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