Open Source for Web Services?

Tim O’Reilly wrote this[1] last week that Open Source Licenses are Obsolete. He points out that the excitement (or at least the newness) today is largely about web services. (Note the term “services”, not “software”.)

To these “services”, a license that deals almost exclusively with installed software doesn’t mean much. The software distributed under these various open-source licenses isn’t obsolete (in fact, I work on some fulltime), but rather these installation-based licenses aren’t sufficient or appropriate when “software as services” are concerned.

Granting somebody the rights to modify the source code behind the Yahoo! Term Extractor web service doesn’t make any sense. Instead, we need a way to license the service: How much capacity is provided? How much uptime is granted? What types of uses are legit? Etc.

This question that he’s raising makes good sense to me. I’ve got friends at agencies and startups that I encourage to use our extensive web service offerings. They want to (and do), but they have legitimate and real questions that a discussion like the one Tim’s provoking could begin to answer.

[1] I gotta get better about not losing things in the draft folder.