Any enterprise that does software development and uses open source should be worried about licence violations, if you ask Boston based start-up company Black Duck. Because when developers use general public licence (GPL) code in combination with proprietary code, they is a fair chance that they are violating the commercial software licence, the GPL licence and maybe even both.
Black Duck, exhibiting at LinuxWorld in Boston this week, develops an application that will analyse the binary code of any application that you might have developed in house. Using finger printing technology, it will effortlessly recognise any open source code inside the application and warn the user about possible conflicts between licences.
The GPL requires that developers reveal the source code of any customizations that add to the GPL-code. But in many cases, enterprises don't want to reveal the source code of projects they develop themselves. Companies violating the GPL run the risk of receiving a phone call from the Free Software Foundation. Linksys in the past has had the pleasure of receiving one of those, due to sloppy programming work by a partner in India.
For $25,000 Black Duck will scrub up to 25 megabytes of code. The software currently runs inside the company firewall, but Black Duck later this year expects to come out with a hosted solution that customers can access over the internet, CEO Doug Levin said.
"It is very easy to pick up stray code and put it in your releases. Software no longer necessarily becomes yours. The nature of software development has changed," Levin told vnunet.com
Levin currently has about a dozen customers. Yet Levin predicts that the market for software compliance management will grow to about $500 by 2009.
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