Google OSPO: Why we support the OSI

This week, we’re pleased to spotlight another OSI sponsor, Google, and learn why open source is important to their organization.

Google's Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) supports open source innovation, collaboration, and sustainability through programs and services. Chris Dibona has been the Director of the Google OSPO since it began in 2004. Google’s commitment to supporting open source projects, communities, and maintainers across the entire open source ecosystem has only grown stronger, doubling its public repos in the past five years and investing $1 million in open source research.

We asked Director Chris Dibona to share the organization’s intrinsic ties to open source, its reasons for supporting the Open Source Initiative, and its hopes for the open source movement. Here’s what he said:

OSPO: Google has been using and releasing open source nearly since its inception in the late 90s. Google is keenly aware of the role that open source plays as the underpinnings of so many of our services; we happily use open source licensing as it allows us to have the best possible relationships, with little friction, with our friends in the larger world of mobile, cloud, systems, and machine learning development. Computer science (and the industry) is built on open source!

OSI: What are the 2-3 reasons your organization sponsors the Open Source Initiative?

OSPO: Googlers have been part of the OSI since the early 2000s, and we see OSI as the literal standard bearer, deciding what is and is not open source, and a strong administerial OSI is one that serves the world of open source developers well. I also have aspirations for OSI’s educational mission, presenting a fair view of what open source is and what responsibilities users of open source software have when using open source.

OSI: Why should organizations that consume open source software support the mission of OSI?

OSPO: A confused world of open source represents ambiguity in what you can or cannot do with open source licensed software. Commercial organizations should support OSI’s mission so that there’s no surprises when using software. Proprietary software isn’t bad at all, but knowing and maintaining the differences between commercial proprietary software and open source is pretty important to us. For non-profit organizations in the software development space, they should see the OSI as an important specialist organization preserving what open source and free software are to the world of software development.

OSI: What is the most important goal that the open source movement needs to achieve in 2022?

OSPO: More education and more clarity as to what open source is and is not and what one can and cannot do with it. I worry that there’s a lot of commercial and regulatory moats being dug that aim to remove the freedoms we associate with free and open source software, and OSI is an important voice in preserving what open source is, and how people can use, modify, distribute and reshare it.