Introduction to Library and Information Science/Annotation of Dorman, David. "Open Source Software and the Intellectual Commons."

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Dorman, David. “Open Source Software and the Intellectual Commons.” American Libraries 33, no. 11 (December 2002): 51-54.

Dorman asserts that the Open Source Software movement is akin to librarians’ views of information. That is, information is public property and as such anyone should have access to it. OSS furthers this by emphasizing the software that holds the information: if control of the software is eliminated, the information itself is more free and accessible. Thus, the Information Control Wars is the battle between those who believe technology should promote free access to information, and those who believe technology should control it for their economic and political gain. Dorman presents a thoughtful treatise on the philosophical, democratic, and tangible merits of OSS. His analysis sheds light on the legal implications of patent and copyright legislation of which the casual supporter of OSS may not be aware.

The discussion of OSS in context with information belonging to all brings to mind SCO Group’s many lawsuits against companies who allegedly copied source code that, OSS advocates argue, was free to begin with. Little SCO taking on the big, bad corporation of IBM, for example, seems on the surface to underscore democracy. But SCO’s claims run against the intent of OSS, and their attempts to extract monies seem ill-founded at best. The question arises nonetheless: how does one determine when intellectual property has been violated in OSS? If there is a violation in the OSS world, what implications does that have for its future? What are the implications for those who support free information and access?