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OpenLogic Survey Shows Enterprises Unknowingly Risk Violation of GPL

Companies Unaware That Providing Mobile Apps or Other Software to Customers Triggers "Copyleft" Provisions in Open Source Licenses (June 30, 2010)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 06/30/10 -- OpenLogic, a provider of enterprise open source software support and governance solutions for hundreds of open source packages, today announced the results of a survey that shows many companies are unaware that they may be distributing open source software, and thereby triggering critical "copyleft" provisions of open source licenses. Under copyleft provisions, companies may be required to open source code that they have written and combined with the open source program.

More than 65% of respondents who believed that they were not distributing open source software were in fact providing software to customers, partners or others outside the organization. In addition, only 22% of companies were using any tools or services to determine whether software contained open source, despite the fact that 84% use open source software.

From the survey results, OpenLogic concludes:

  • Companies often incorrectly believe they don't distribute open source software due to proliferation of web-based applications, mobile applications and outsourcing.
  • Companies often don't employ tools or services that could help them accurately identify open source software in their applications and code, relying instead on less accurate developer reports.
  • Software developer respondents were much more likely to report that their companies distribute open source than respondents in legal, procurement or architecture -- indicating that other parts of the organization may not be fully aware of how and where open source is being used.
  • Respondents who are familiar with GPL requirements are much more likely to use a 3rd party scanning tool to find open source, likely because they recognize the complexities of complying with open source software licenses.

"Many enterprises are operating in the dark about their open source usage. They often do not have accurate visibility into what open source software they are using and are unaware of situations where they may be distributing open source software," said Kim Weins, senior vice president of marketing at OpenLogic. "As a result, companies are inadvertently placing themselves at risk of violating open source licenses."

Highlights from the survey:
Of organizations that claim not to distribute open source or are unsure if they distribute open source (includes only respondents who claim they don't distribute open source software or are unsure if they do).
Respondents could select more than one answer.

  • 46.7% of these have external facing web applications
  • 21.6% offshore or outsource development
  • 19.6% provide mobile applications for download
  • 19.6% sell products that have software inside of them
  • 15.6% give software to customers to use
  • 13.7% give software to partners to use

Methods used by companies to identify open source (includes all respondents):
Respondents could select more than one answer.

  • Scanning tool from a 3rd party 12.2%
  • Scanning tool we have developed 6.1%
  • String search tools like grep 6.1%
  • Other tools 4.9%
  • Scanning services from a 3rd party 7.3%
  • Reports from developers about what open source is used 26.8%
  • Manual inspections of source code 17.1%
  • Other methods 11.0%
  • None of the above 29.3%
  • Not sure 28.0%

Respondents (by role) that report their company distributes open source (includes only respondents who claim they distribute open source):

  • Software developers 50%
  • Operations staff 30%
  • Legal and compliance staff 14.3%
  • Architects 8.3%

Respondents who use 3rd party scanning tools to identify open source software

  • Those who use scanner and are familiar with GPL -- 15.4%
  • Those who use scanner and are a little familiar with GPL -- 5.6%
  • Those who use scanner and are not familiar with GPL -- 0%

Link to survey results from or download CSV file here.

Aggregate results:
Does your company distribute any open source software outside the walls of your organization?

  • No 59.8%
  • Yes 32.9%
  • Not sure 7.3%

Does your company do any of the following? Please check all that apply.

  • Sell software products 26.7%
  • Sell products that have software inside of them 21.3%
  • Give software to customers to use 29.3%
  • Give software to partners to use 22.7%
  • Give software to consultants or outsourcers 9.3%
  • Have external facing web applications 46.7%
  • Provide mobile applications (Android, iPhone, etc) for download 17.3%
  • Provide social media applications (Facebook, etc) 8.0%
  • Offshore or outsource some of your development 24.0%
  • Participate in M&A transactions as either buyer or seller 13.3%
  • Contribute code to open source software projects 28.0%
  • None of the above 18.7%

Are you generally familiar with the requirements of the GNU General Public Licenses (such as the GPL, LGPL and AGPL) for open source software?

  • Yes 68.0%
  • A little 24.0%
  • No 6.7%
  • Not sure what it is 1.3%

The survey was conducted in June 2010 by OpenLogic and had a total of 82 respondents including members of developer, architect and legal and compliance teams. Respondents came from a mix of small, medium and large companies: 35% were from companies with more than 1,000 employees; 29% had between 50 and 1,000 employees and 29% had fewer than 50 employees.

About OpenLogic
OpenLogic is a leading provider of open source solutions that enable enterprises to safely acquire, support, and control open source software. OpenLogic provides enterprises with a certified library of open source software that encompasses hundreds of the most popular open source packages via OpenLogic Exchange (OLEX), a free web site where companies can find, research, and download certified, enterprise-ready open source packages on demand. With the broadest open source coverage in the industry, OpenLogic offers indemnification; updates; and enterprise-grade technical support backed by the OpenLogic Expert Community. OpenLogic also provides solutions for open source governance and to automate the integration and deployment of open source components -- reducing the risk and maximizing the cost savings associated with using open source software. For more on OpenLogic, go to

Media Contact:
Bret Clement
[email protected]

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