Open Source

The term "open source" in the context of software implies source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution.


Software Development

The main principle of open source software develpment is allowing all source code and documentation to be available to the public. Likewise, the open source software development model is decentralized in nature and encourages open collaboration.


Licenses

In a sense, the open source ideology is the opposite of copyright. So, the term "copyleft" was coined. Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify intellectual property, with the requirement that all derivative work from the property upholds the same licensing.


There are many copyleft licenses, with the two primary examples being the GNU and BSD licenses. However, in response to debate about which one of the two licenses was most free, the awesomely named Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License (WTFPL) was born, upholding the "maximum" freedoms possible. The MIT license is often confused to be a copyleft license, but since it permits reuse in propietary software it is not.


In the same vein is the Creative Commons license, a copyleft license designed for media rather than software.


Importance

In free-market capitalism, the desire to accumulate capital drives innovation; organizations duke it out, producing the most cost-efficient and market-dominant products possible. For most of history this meant keeping secrets, building monopolies, and avoiding collaboration. Software, however, breaks this cycle.


Software is more complex in nature than any other field of production. Software is highly interchangable, easily permissible, and has no production or shipping costs aside from the initial hardware. Because of these factors, the best, most effiencent, and most secure software is produced collaboratively rather than competitively.


The open-source software ecosystem, in my opinion, has produced far better software than their closed-source counterparts a majority of the time. The Linux ecosystem, Bitcoin, VSCode, and Tensorflow and come to mind.


References

[1] "Post Open Source" - boringcactus.com
[2] "About Open Source Licenses" - opensource.org
[3] "Open Collaboration for Innovation: Principles and Performance" - Sheen S. Levine & Michael J. Prietula, pubsonline.informs.org
[4] "Linux Kernal Licensing Rules" - kernel.org
[5] "What is Open Source, and Why Should I Care About It?" - u/JobDestroyer, reddit.com