Web 2.0 companies are largely built upon Open Source software. But how many of them do you consider significant contributors to Open Source? In general, there is an open ethic, and communities demand (and reward) it. But somewhere along the way, the focus shifted to APIs and Open Source wasn't rationalized as part of the business model. Some call them Open APIs or Open Data, but until there is a legal framework adhered to as community standard (word is OSI will work to address this), they are just APIs with unilateral rights. And with the focus on APIs, instead of contributing code back to the projects you leverage, or contributing your own projects, cooperation has been limited (save a handful of great standards efforts like Atom) Business models have also been held back by the gradual evolution of Open Source licensing, until now.
- Web 2.0 companies seriously considering what portions of their codebase could be Open Source licensed for their own benefit. As well as taking an inventory of what they use for the purpose of what they should give back.
- MPL+Attribution companies adopting CPAL because they want to be Open Source and part of the community
- Enterprise 2.0 SaaS providers reconsidering their business model with the one Open Source license that closes the SaaS loophole
- Enterprises considering what portion of their erstwhile custom in-house codebase could now be made available under CPAL
- Portal companies thinking beyond how they have the coding power to write around attribution and consider which of their projects could be licensed with it
- New Commercial Open Source ventures
- Native Open Source projects address the SaaS loophole and bring attribution back to their community because of the positive incentives it provides for innovation
Dan Bricklin has written a practical guide for applying CPAL to your product. Also see his blog post.
I should say my first paragraph is a generalization. There are lots of Web 2.0 companies that are great citizens of Open Source and some make it part of their business model, like Wordpress and recently Six Apart. Some Portals make great contributions, but again, my impression is that they have played into the API parlay. To defeat this generalization, there is almost a need for a wiki that lets people openly inventory the open source products leveraged, licenses used and contributions back.
UPDATE: Steven Livingstone comments:
I'm not sure the Open Source thing is such a big issue anymore. I see many Open Source platforms being managed by service providers and whether they are Open Source or not won't be as important - it will be whether there are open API's. Underneath it could be anything...
This is precisely my point. Yes, it is great that you can develop upon an API, from say, Flickr. And look at all that innovation around the Flickr API. But what makes it Open? Because it is public? With a unilateral non-standard license, explicitly forbidding commercial use in some cases, that can be changed at the whim of Yahoo, any development or use is at the whim of Yahoo. API standards like Atom Publishing Protocol or what we are doing with Amo are different. But even on top of standards you need a legal framework to foster a real commons.