Myth 8: Open source code has no restrictions

OfficeOpen source code can be a terrific resource for startups and their developers  For those unfamiliar, open source code is code that is freely available for anyone to use and improve upon. While open source may seem like the realm of programmers and developers, you probably have some experience with it if you've used Firefox for browsing or Android as your phone's operating system. But despite the name, open source code is not necessarily as open as you may expect.

When developing, it's important to understand whether or not your developers are using open source code. If they are, take the time to read the licenses and understand any permissions related to that code. While much of what is available is fine to use, some may have provisions that prevent its' use in a commercial application.  And if you've already spent countless hours developing your application using this source code, it will take considerable time and resources to go back and remove all the code before you can go to market.

When looking at the licenses for open source code or software, there are a few key items to look for to ensure that you will be able to actually use the code with your project. Beyond making sure that you will have the ability to sell or distribute your software with that code in it, the license should allow for modifications and derived works to be created and distributed under the same terms as the original license. It also shouldn't be restrictive to the fields in which it can be used or other software that it can be distributed with, nor should it be specific to one particular product. While it's possible that you may be able to live with a license that is more restrictive, it is best to know what you're getting into regardless to prevent painful legal problems down the line.  


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