A blog for the enterprise open source community
Oracle outlines its open source “citizenship”Matthew Aslett, December 15, 2008 @ 10:31 am ET
Back in October last year a corporate accountability group called As You Sow attempted to persuade Oracle to detail its commitment to open source by publishing an Open Source Social Responsibility Report.
Oracle resisted the proposal but did promise to share more details on its use of open source in the next version of its Oracle’s Commitment social responsibility report. I just noticed that the renamed Oracle Corporate Citizenship Report (Pdf) was recently published (in late November as far as I can make out) and does indeed include a section on Oracle’s commitment to open source.
In the section “Open Source and Accessibility” Oracle notes that “Open source is a software development approach that offers free access to a product’s source code. Open source permits individuals to adapt a product to their needs and release such modifications so the whole community can benefit.”
The report also lists the major open source projects to which it contributes, including Linux, Xen, PHP, Apache, Eclipse, SASH, Spring, Berkeley DB, and InnoDB but is light on details.
(As it happens The 451 Group has just recently published a report on Oracle’s open source strategy, so clients can join the dots by clicking here, while non-clients can request trial access).
Anyway, the publication of Oracle’s Corporate Citizenship Report reminded me of this suggestion from earlier in the year that corporate and social responsibility might be key to encouraging corporate contributions to open source.
Bradley Kuhn noted in June that the Software Freedom Law Center had received a call from “someone involved with one of the many socially responsible investment houses” who was thinking about “willingness to contribute to FLOSS” as a factor in social responsibility. (The SFLC’s site is down at the time of writing, here’s the cached version of Bradley’s post).
Clearly we are some way from open source being considered socially responsible outside the IT industry but interesting to see a company like Oracle including open source in its responsibility report. IBM mentions open source in its Corporate Responsibility Report (Pdf) while Sun Microsystems mentions it in its Corporate Social Responsibility Report but in both cases that is as much about validation of corporate strategy as it is about being seen to be socially responsible.
Oracle’s new report may say more about Oracle’s changing relationship with open source than it does about a more widespread view of open source as socially responsible, but given the current economic climate it is likely we will see more corporations talking up the use of open source as a tool to make more efficient use of resources.
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