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  • Writer's pictureBy Akshata

Open Source Licensing: Understanding Your Options and Obligations


Drone Based On PX4
Drone Based On PX4 | Credit- Flybotix ASIO

The open source movement has gained popularity in the drone industry, with many companies and developers turning to open source software to build, customize, and operate drones. Open source software offers various benefits, such as cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and customization options. However, choosing the right open source license is crucial to ensure legal compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

In the drone industry, there are several open source licenses available, each with its own set of obligations and responsibilities. For example, the MIT License is a permissive license that allows users to modify and distribute the code freely, without any restrictions. This license is ideal for developers who want to build custom applications and tools for drone operations.


What is Open Source Licensing?

Open source licensing is a type of license that allows users to access, modify, and distribute source code freely. Unlike proprietary software, where users must pay for a license and are restricted in how they can use the software, open source software allows users to modify and customize the code to suit their needs.

There are various open source licenses available, each with its own set of obligations and restrictions. Some licenses allow users to modify and distribute the code freely, while others require users to share any changes they make with the community.


A dev's guide to open source software licensing
A dev's guide to open source software licensing | Credit- GitHub


Types of Open Source Licenses

  1. MIT License - This is a permissive license that allows users to modify and distribute the code without any restrictions. The only requirement is that the original copyright notice and license text must be included in any distribution.

  2. GNU General Public License (GPL) - This is a copyleft license that requires users to share any changes they make to the code. Any modifications made to the code must also be released under the GPL license.

  3. Apache License - This is a permissive license that allows users to modify and distribute the code freely, as long as the original copyright notice and license text are included in any distribution.

  4. Mozilla Public License (MPL) - This is a hybrid license that combines elements of both permissive and copyleft licenses. It allows users to modify and distribute the code freely, but any changes made must also be released under the MPL license.

  5. Creative Commons - This is a family of licenses that allow users to share and use creative works, such as images, music, and videos. It is not specifically designed for software but can be used for open source projects that involve creative works.

Understanding Your Obligations and Responsibilities

When choosing an open source license, it's essential to understand your obligations and responsibilities. Open source licenses typically require users to do the following:

  1. Include the original copyright notice and license text in any distribution.

  2. Share any changes made to the code.

  3. Give credit to the original authors of the code.

  4. Use the code only for legal and ethical purposes.

  5. Avoid infringing on any patents or trademarks associated with the code.

Failure to comply with these obligations can result in legal action, including injunctions, damages, and attorney fees. When choosing an open source license for your drone project, it's essential to understand your obligations and responsibilities. Open source licenses typically require users to include the original copyright notice and license text in any distribution, share any changes made to the code, and give credit to the original authors of the code. It's also important to consider the specific needs of your drone project when choosing an open source license. For example, if you're building a custom application for drone operations, a permissive license like the MIT License or Apache License may be the best option. If you're sharing your custom software with the community, a copyleft license like the GPL may be more suitable.


A Practical example

Let's take a practical example of how open source licensing can be applied in the drone industry. Suppose you're a drone operator who wants to build a custom software application for mapping and surveying purposes. You have two options: either build the software from scratch, or use an open source software platform like OpenDroneMap.


OpenDroneMap
OpenDroneMap

OpenDroneMap is an open source software platform that allows users to process aerial imagery and create 3D models, maps, and orthomosaics. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which requires users to share any changes they make to the code.

If you choose to use OpenDroneMap, you can customize the software to suit your specific needs, such as integrating it with your drone hardware, adding new features, and modifying the user interface. However, since OpenDroneMap is licensed under the GPL, any modifications made to the code must also be released under the GPL license. This means that you must share your custom software with the community, including any modifications made to the OpenDroneMap code. While this may seem like a disadvantage, it can actually be a benefit for drone operators who want to share their custom software with the community. By releasing your custom software under the GPL license, you can contribute to the open source community, gain feedback and support, and potentially attract new customers who value open source software. On the other hand, if you choose to build your software application from scratch, you can choose a permissive open source license like the MIT License or Apache License. These licenses allow you to modify and distribute the code freely, without any requirements to share changes or modifications.


In conclusion, open source licensing is an essential aspect of the drone industry, and choosing the right license is crucial to ensure legal compliance and avoid potential legal issues. By understanding the various open source licenses available and their obligations and responsibilities, drone companies and developers can make informed decisions and build innovative solutions for the industry.

 

Akshata is a writer based in Bengaluru, India. She is known for her deep passion for drones and her ability to overcome challenges in this rapidly-evolving industry. She has spent countless hours researching and experimenting with various drone models, honing her skills as a pilot and innovator. She continues to inspire others with her passion for innovation and her commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible with drone technology.

LinkedIn: @akshata Topmate: @akshata


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