Introducing "Business Source": The Future of Corporate Open Source Licensing?

Michael Widenius, Linus Morten Nyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The benefits of the open source development model have been proven by the test of time; however, making this development model economically feasible can be challenging. In this article, Monty Widenius puts forth a suggestion for a new type of license, which is the result of the lessons learned from decades of work on open source, both as programmer and entrepreneur. The result, “business source”, is a license that seeks to enable a business model that can both harness the benefits of open source while generating sufficient income for the program’s continued development. The business source license automatically changes terms after a given period: an initial non-open source license with specific usage restrictions that transforms to a fully open source license on a specific future date.

In this article, we contribute a proposal for a novel license, a set of recommendations for managers, and a sample text of a business source license. This work will be of relevance to four main groups: i) those developing or managing a closed source program but who are interested in the benefits open source offers; ii) those managing open core programs; iii) projects in development; and iv) investors interested in funding open source projects.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalTechnology Innovation Management Review
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 06.2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • 512 Business and Management


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