MySQL Profits From Open Source

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Linux is still the most famous open-source app, but database software using the same model is getting some play. MySQL is giving established software firms a run for their money. By Joanna Glasner. [Wired News]

MySQL (Seattle) raised $19 million in venture capital last year, has 4,000 customers (who pay to use the MySQL database and not contribute their code as open source) and made $10 million in revenue last year. Not bad for an open source company.

I’ll be attending an Open Source conference in San Francisco next month to learn how Open Source companies are making money. I’m personally very interested in Open Content projects such as DMOZ and Wikipedia. Some people say “information wants to be free.” I don’t believe that as a universal rule. I believe that some people want information to be free and other people want to charge for it.�There are enough consumers of information in the world that both models can work. Both of my successful content companies (Infobases and Ancestry.com) started by aggregating public domain information and making it accessible to large numbers of consumers. But as we grew, we added premium content, licensed from copyright holders. Our success came because we added value to information by making it easier to find and use than ever before.

I do like the shorter term of patents (14-20 years) vs. copyright (life of author plus 70 years). I think it is very unfortunate that copyrights extend so long. Clearly, the copyright laws have been modified based on pressure from large media companies. Individual authors and artists don’t need protection to last 2-3 generations after they are deceased. The original 28 years coverage given to copyright holders under the 1790 law was good and maybe as life expectancy increased it increased to 42 then 56 years. But the new laws favor large corporate interests and not the common good.

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