In this edition of the OSI Newsletter, we sat down with Philip Odence, Vice President and General Manager at Black Duck. Phil
leads corporate business development with responsibilities spanning strategy, M&A, and partnerships within the software development
ecosystem, legal and open source communities. A frequent speaker at industry events, Phil chairs the Linux Foundation's
Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX)
working group and participates on the GENIVI marketing team.
OSI: Black Duck provides a variety of services to help organizations understand open source licenses, can you tell us some
of the issues that you see most often raised?
Philip Odence: Black Duck’s business is to provide products and services to help organizations get the most out of open source, developing
applications and products faster, cheaper, and more securely, and to use it with enough control that they can manage any potential
business, legal and technical risks. A big part of our job is to educate, and that education often starts with open source licensing.
We find this to be so important because many people don’t realize why open source licensing is important.
Over 1,400 organizations around the world hire us to help manage the OSS Logistics process, but we also offer many important free
open source resources that promote the importance of open source and help create the best, most innovative and most secure offerings.
Our legal webinars are a good example: Every six to eight weeks we pick a legal topic that is open source-related and provide a “come
one come all” webinar on the topic. Black Duck hosts the events, but the bulk of the content is provided by top legal experts: the
OSI’s Counsel, Mark Radcliffe, and Counsel to the Linux Foundation, Karen Copenhaver. While we certainly attract a lot of lawyers to
these events, about half of the participants are developers or development managers. It’s encouraging to know that people across an
organization who take part in the software development process realize the need to better understand open source licenses and how to
ensure their compliance.
We also own and maintain the Black Duck Open Hub (formerly known as Ohloh), which is a free resource for both managing open source
projects and allowing developers to effectively compare and choose projects and components. Each project comes with accompanying
license, language, popularity and other metadata to ensure users make the most informed decision regarding their code bases.
OSI: There are many benefits to open source software, what do you find most appealing about the use of open source software and/or the
open source community?
Odence: Where do I start? Generally open source is about sharing and collaborating to produce better software – the biggest open source
projects, like Linux or Apache Tomcat, are good examples. But it also applies when a company is building an application for their own
use or when a product is able to leverage pre-existing open source components. Instead of having a developer start from scratch, they
can work off a project to create something that fits their needs. It makes the whole open source community very appealing, and one you
not only need, but want to be a part of.
OSI: Black Duck has been sponsoring the OSI for two years now, how does the OSI's mission and activities support Black Duck specifically
and, more broadly, the open source community?
Odence: We sincerely believe that anything good for open source is good for Black Duck. The OSI has brought some “sanity” to open source
licensing, which makes it easy for all types of organizations to participate. That’s tremendously important. Black Duck has compiled
resources that people can use to expand their knowledge of Open Source Logistics, technologies, and methods. We want our educational
materials to help maximize the value of open source and drive innovation within organizations, and we love to share what we learn with
the community through the OSI.
OSI: What are some of the areas you hope to see the OSI invest in throughout 2014 and beyond?
Odence: To quote your mission statement: "Community-building, education, and public advocacy to promote awareness and the importance of
non-proprietary software.” We, at Black Duck, wholeheartedly believe in this great agenda. Defining open source licenses and helping
to limit license proliferation has been a great accomplishment and a step forward to accomplishing the mission. We’d love to see more
awareness-building about all aspects of open source, and the OSI is in a great position to do it. This, again, is well aligned with
Black Duck’s agenda to promote the use of open source and help companies manage its use.