Open-source software is computer software that is available in source code form: the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under asoftware license that permits users to study, change, improve and at times also to distribute the software.
Generically, open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations.
The Open Source Definition is used by the Open Source Initiative to determine whether or not a software license can be considered open source.
The definition was based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines, written and adapted primarily by Bruce Perens. They are by no means definitive even as applied to software. Clause 3 is the primary legal difference between free software and open source software as such, free software is stricter in interpreting 3. Clauses 5 and 6 are not a condition of any major open content license regimes, which commonly do restrict types of uses and users; for instance, Creative Commonshas open content licenses that explicitly forbid commercial use.
OSI dictates that in order to be considered “OSI Certified” a product must meet the following criteria:
- The author or holder of the license of the source code cannot collect royalties on the distribution of the program
- The distributed program must make the source code accessible to the user
- The author must allow modifications and derivations of the work under the program’s original name
- No person, group or field of endeavor can be denied access to the program
- The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program’s being part of a particular software distribution
- The licensed software cannot place restrictions on other software that is distributed with it.