Final Thesis: Getting Licensing Right at OwnCloud (Teaching Case)

Abstract: The success of every software project is determined to no small degree by the license under which its creator chooses to publish the software. Free/libre open source software has made free sharing of software and code reuse much easier but has also made the business of software licensing far more complex. This thesis presents a teaching case seeking to introduce the basic concepts required to make licensing choices successfully. The case casts a special focus on free/libre open source licenses, revealing the interwovenness of licensing strategy and the business model of an open source-based company. The 2011 founded startup OwnCloud is a software vendor offering an on-premise file synchronization and sharing solution. The OwnCloud suite is free/libre open source software, but there is also a proprietary edition available aiming to meet the demands of large enterprises. The students have to put themselves in the shoes of one of OwnCloud’s co-founders who is in charge of the license management as he faces a key licensing decision regarding one of the central components of OwnCloud’s software suite.

Keywords: Intellectual property, software licensing, free/libre open source software, single-vendor commercial open source business model, dual licensing strategy

Reference: Johannes Christian Neupert. Getting Licensing Right. Master Thesis, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg: 2016.