Welcome to the Open Source Initiative’s 2018 annual report. In this year’s report you’ll learn about the organization’s activities from the past year, which captures the hard work of employees, contractors, volunteers, and those passionate about open source. I hope this will give you some context on why this work happened and what makes it so important. The Open Source Initiative was started in 1998 by a group of people interested in seeing ethics applied to the creation and distribution of software. This approach was built on a foundation of ideals – a specific philosophy on the rights and responsibilities of software users and creators. More than twenty years later, I am writing as a director of the OSI, which has grown into a robust organization with record numbers of individual and affiliate members, a dedicated all volunteer board, and the incredible support of volunteers and open source enthusiasts around the world.
2018 brought amazing successes for the OSI. We celebrated our 20th anniversary, which took us around the world where we were able to look back on thousands of victories for open source. Every line of code or translation; every piece of documentation and version controlled repository; every successful business, happy user, and committed contributor, continues to shape a movement that has changed the face of technology, business, and community. It was also a year in which Microsoft acquired GitHub, one of the largest distributors of open source licensed code, and IBM purchased open source business giant Red Hat, showing that the companies that built their success around proprietary software see the need for an open source future.
The past year also brought new questions on the validity of the Open Source Definition; the role of open source licensing, and both copyleft extension and enforcement; and individuals and organizations challenging the work of the OSI and the open source community as a whole. This included the legal battle concerning Google’s use of Oracle America’s APIs, and the creation of the Commons Clause, which renders any previously open license no longer OSD-compliant. I view these as challenges we need to meet, and illustrations as to why the the OSI is as important as ever. I am certain that the open source community will rise to the occasion.
It is thanks to your support, interest, and work that the OSI is able to continue our efforts to support software freedom by maintaining the canonical list of open source licenses, providing a home for new projects and community initiatives, and bringing attention to the necessity of open source in the future of computing. The values that drive the OSI have had a demonstrable impact on the world, bringing new approaches to the ethical considerations facing everyone creating and interacting with computing technology and beyond. We see adoption of open source ideals not just in software, but in art, design, publishing, and science. Looking back on 20 years of open source ideology, we see twenty fruitful years of collaboration, contribution, and community that have spawned a philosophy of openness across fields of endeavor. Here’s to 20 more years of open source!
Molly de Blanc
OSI Board President