Blockchain and food integrity are all about transparency and trust. That’s why Open Source is the mantra for Open Food Chain. The main differences with proprietary licences are transparency, public access and the fact that it is free of charge. In Open Source, there is and never will be a license fee or patent charge for its users.
Open Source came to life (in the late 90’s) as an addition to Free software which became popular in during those years. It is meant to set software free while protecting it. Just like in a proprietary project, initially, the creator owns the software (IP) but in an open-source project, he or she provides a licence to other “contributors” to reproduce, modify and redistribute the software. Open Source licences tend to have a high degree of quality, freedom and openness. Open Source software is a battle-tested way to protect software against patent wars and accelerates innovation and security.
All of the code of Open Food Chain is licensed under the well-known and robust Apache 2.0 license. This licence explicitly separates branding, trademarks, user interface (UI) and graphics from functional source code. As branding, trademarks, UI and graphics are more connected to the identity of the project as opposed to the functionality, we think this is a very good thing. The trust provided by the Open Source software can be used to accrue value in the branding. Then the branding is protected within the project, while the trust in the code can be validated by the public.
The Apache 2.0 licence does not have a so-called copyleft clause, which is a clause requiring others to actively release their changes or improvements as Open Source too. We do not see a large value in such a clause but do see that some contributors would be hesitant to use our code if this requirement were imposed. In practice, we find that an active community forms without a legal requirement to contribute code. You can find and read the full Apache 2.0 licence here: https://choosealicense.com/licenses/apache-2.0/
Apache 2.0 is the third most popular licence of all open source licences. Some well-known projects use the Apache 2.0 licence and a famous one is the Android operating system by Google. Furthermore, we use Open Source components and protocols as building blocks which are not always Apache 2.0. If applicable their respective licences (like General Public Licence) are to be honoured.
Our Open Source policy goals
– That the solution is (under the terms of the license) usable for the public domain
– Governance on the projects is effected via their industry foundations
– The software is inclusive: publicly available and free of charge
– The software is transparent: publicly available and well documented
We are progressively working towards these goals, but we realise we’re not ready yet. But we feel it is good to share our intentions and to be clear about our vision and roadmap with regard to Open Source.