The Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0

Riding a dead horse

For 6 years, the Bitkom Open Source Guide 2.0 was a tuto­r­i­al for the appro­pri­ate use of open-source soft­ware. It was a bench­mark for Ger­man com­pa­nies. But it has aged over time, nat­u­ral­ly. Good that Bitkom and its ‘Open Source’ work­ing group have tak­en up the top­ic again: In June 2022, there was offi­cial­ly released an expand­ed and refined Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0, — again intend­ed to be a man­u­al and a bench­mark for com­pa­nies

[ en | de ]

The one amaz­ing thing is that with this guide, Bitkom has pub­lished a ‘hand­out’ under a (kind of) open-source license for the first time, that is to say: under a Cre­ative Com­mons license (CC BY-ND 3.0 DE). Appar­ent­ly, the idea of ​​a freely acces­si­ble ser­vice is also com­ing to the fore at Bitkom. That gives his voice even more weight. But it is under­stand­able that Bitkom does not allow third par­ties to mod­i­fy the work (ND = Non Deriva­tion). It wants to pre­serve the gained qual­i­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty. How­ev­er, by using this CC license Bitkom per­mits any oth­er type of use by third par­ties, includ­ing com­mer­cial use. And in the not-too-dis­tant future, Bitkom will cer­tain­ly bring itself to make the sources gen­er­al­ly acces­si­ble, not just in a ‘closed’ GitHub orga­ni­za­tion.

The sec­ond aston­ish­ing thing is relat­ed to this. Bitkom has allowed its authors to orga­nize them­selves via and with GitHub. Any­one could take part. Any­one could become a mem­ber of the orga­ni­za­tion and thus access the GitHub repos­i­to­ry con­tain­ing the (par­tial) results. Bitkom has — again, for the first time and suc­cess­ful­ly — devel­oped a book using the meth­ods of open-source soft­ware devel­op­ment. The authors wrote the chap­ters of the Bitkom open-source guide in Mark­down. Then they checked their mod­i­fi­ca­tions into the repos­i­to­ry as snip­pets. Even­tu­al­ly, they com­bined them as a com­plete work via inci­dents and pull requests, although by no means all authors were famil­iar with GitHub from the begin­ning. This fact also points beyond itself: Git, GitHub or Git­Lab can sig­nif­i­cant­ly sim­pli­fy (cross-com­pa­ny) coop­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

And the third amaz­ing thing is the trans­for­ma­tion of the con­tent. While the release 2.0 still focused on the legal aspects of use, the new Bitkom Open Source Guide 3.0 is much more com­pre­hen­sive and bal­anced: It dis­cuss­es both, the ben­e­fits of FOSS and its devel­op­ment process. It ana­lyzes the inte­gra­tion into busi­ness mod­els and cor­po­rate strate­gies, explains open source com­pli­ance, and con­sid­ers the FOSS his­to­ry — each on almost the same num­ber of pages. The oth­er aspects of FOSS are no longer an appendage of com­pli­ance. The BOSL‑3.0 takes the pre­req­ui­sites for the suc­cess­ful use of open-source soft­ware into account gen­er­al­ly, with­out reduc­ing the top­ic of ‘license com­pli­ance’. And each sec­tion, with only 10–20 pages, can eas­i­ly be used to get a quick overview.

What does this mean for com­pa­nies? Well, for the moment, BOSL‑3.0 is still a Ger­man guide­line. But with it, the com­pa­nies get anoth­er reli­able guide­line that exter­nal experts have reviewed sev­er­al times.

And in what way is this …

… part of the over­ar­ch­ing top­ic FOSS Com­pli­ance? For ful­fill­ing the require­ments of FOSS licens­es, we have to con­sid­er spe­cif­ic indi­vid­ual cas­es as well as side effects — for soft­ware, pic­tures, or doc­u­ments. We should unhide trends and write guide­lines. Above all, how­ev­er, we must dri­ve for­ward the automa­tion of license ful­fill­ment, make our licens­ing knowl­edge freely avail­able, cast it into small­er tools, and bring it into larg­er sys­tems: Because FOSS thrives on free­dom through license ful­fill­ment, large and small. That’s what also this arti­cle is about.

To top