All software is born proprietary. It starts as an idea in the mind of a gifted creator.
Whether inspired by an unsolved problem, by an existing solution, by an itch or an emotion. It is that magical man-second – the opposite of the mythical man month – the moment of bliss and inspiration when ideas flow unhindered through the creative mind and something new, intangible, is born.
The flow can’t be stopped. Sometimes the creator finds the means to bring it up to consciousness and fix a copy of it on media. Depending how it is expressed it takes the form of music, picture, literary work or code; fixed on a sheet of paper, a computer file or the back of a beermat.
It is still fresh and fragile. The risk of missing its potential or loosing it to an accident is very high – whether to a hard disk crash or to the laundry in the pocket of a shirt.
As time goes by the creator may develop his idea further, or put it aside for a while without the rest of the world to know. The treasure still belongs exclusively to him until he makes the conscious decision of sharing it with the world.
As the idea goes through different stages of maturity, the creator may decide at any time if, and how to share it. That’s his prerogative. Sometimes he decides to keep it proprietary and monetize it. That’s his right. Sometimes he decides to share it with a few others in a restricted collaborative effort. Sometimes he set it free as Open Source, making a gift of one of a human being’s greatest assets: creativity. By setting the software free he gives it an own life, beyond himself, his personal limits and interests. And he deserves our collective gratitude.
Thank you, FOSS software developers, for the great value that you donate to the world.