When drafting an API licensing agreement, it may be prudent to consider that the less one-sided the restrictions are, the more the API will attract innovation by open source developers.
This article discusses the success of Joyent, a company that emphasizes open source code. In an interview with their CEO, the CEO emphasized their business model which is that open source is the most important part of infrastructure software today. “Open source is an approach that works, and we’re sticking to it.” It allows the community to give feedback and innovate, benefitting the company in the process. Moreover, Joyent supports the Node.js Foundation project which is a platform to build cloud management software. The use of foundations to govern the development of open source platforms encourages neutrality and balance among the community stakeholders – the vendors, contributors, and users. According to Joyent’s CEO, ” it’s part of the new era of open source foundations, one in which corporate neutrality, transparency and innovation are the guiding values.”
- Restrictions on the use of the API are needed to protect the security of the software, the website, the users, and the data associated with the site, but companies who wish to encourage the growth of a third party developer community should use legal restrictions in a way that does not seek to exploit (and discourage) the third party developers.
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