The term “public domain” refers to materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright or trademark. Anyone can use public domain material but they cannot exclude others from using the material as well.
There are billions of dollars of software in the public domain.
This includes much of the software used to build and run the Internet. It includes operating systems for computers, networking code and applications like apache, firefox and mysql.
It is estimated that 96% of all software rely on open source and that Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) constitutes 70-90% of any given piece of modern software. The importance of free and open source software is staggering. Yet, it is more staggering that so few understand what open source is and what it means to them.
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) are both considered to be in the public domain. This means that ownership rights for this software are granted to everyone. These rights are legally protected and individuals have the right to sell, copy, modify and use this software. Having ownership rights to something so valuable creates incredible opportunity.
I am not aware of any other instance where everyone has such access to something worth billions that is critical to a trillions dollars industry. The opportunities this provides seem too good to be true but it is real. Those who understand the opportunity have profited greatly.
Wall street, tech companies, the U.S. government and many others see the value of FOSS and routinely leverage it to their benefit. However, these organizations do not own FOSS and tools and capabilities it provides are available to everyone. In regard to FOSS, the key difference between these organizations and individuals is the understanding of how to use it for their benefit.
While there is no effort to suppress information about open source, there also seems to be little effort to educate the public about the opportunity it creates for individuals.
This is not to say that there are not leaders and champions of FOSS. Organizations like the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) work tirelessly to support and maintain a community that creates, and protects software and software freedom. However, their communications tend to focus on the need for open source in protecting and shaping our future.
Our dependency on computing and its importance to the future of our species is undeniable. Ensuring that we develop our computing capabilities in a way that serves everyone and not just a few, deserves the priority that it has been given. Protecting our future means that computing technology can not be monopolized by a few. There must be a shared open foundation that is broadly available. A foundation that delivers core capabilities and the knowledge of how to build and support those capabilities/tools.
The creation of this open computing foundation with its tools and knowledge has created individual opportunity. You can use the tools with no cost. You can study the tools to develop a career, build new tools or just improve your understanding. The limit to how you can use these tools for your benefit is based on your imagination and your effort.
Most of the organizations leading the open source movement do not focus on the economic benefits. They focus on freedom, communication and the value of cooperative work and innovation. These are important values and values we would like to see prioritized across all human activity.
The focus on the value of open source to society as a whole and the role free software has in maintaining a free society is not in conflict with the economic potential. The personal opportunity for financial advancement is not lost, but it is not emphasized. The ability to sell, learn and use open source to make money is mentioned but not the important part of the discussion.
Yet, in our society, economic freedom is also needed. Access to information and resources for personal maintenance and advancement are at a premium for many. The cost of education has created a pay to learn society and many lack the ability to pay. Those who have few or no resources to build from, must be made aware of a unique situation that gives them something to work with.
Those who need opportunity, can find a lot of it in open source. There are a tremendous amount of resources available to those willing to learn to use them. In a world with so many limitations for so many, we cannot afford to ignore the economic opportunity of the movement. Working with or in technology is not for everyone but everyone should know about this one of a kind opportunity.
Personal Opportunity - Free software gives you access to billions of dollars of software at no cost. Use this software for your business, personal use or to develop a profitable skill. Access to source code provides access to a level of capabilities/information that companies protect though copyrights. Open source is a core component of the Internet and it is available to you. Leverage the billions of dollars in resources and capabilities to build a career, establish a business or change the world. The potential is endless for those who understand the opportunity.
Business Opportunity - Goldman Sachs, IBM and countless large corporations are leveraging open source to reduce costs, develop products and increase their bottom lines. Learn what these companies know about open source and how open source can give you the advantage.
U.S. Government - On January 20 2009, President Obama's first day in office, the Open Government initiative was issued to provide transparency and access to Government data. Learn how our Government is using open source and the opportunities this provides for you. Leverage Use open Government data or
The Free Books Library is a collection of thousands of the most popular public domain books in an online readable format. The collection includes great classical literature and more recent works where the U.S. copyright has expired. These books are yours to read and use without restrictions.
The Library of History by Diodorus the Sicilian is one of the most highly regarded universal histories in antiquities. His work includes the history of Egypt, Asia, Africa, Greece and Europe. His book is a must read for research of ancient history.
The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.
The thesis of Stolen Legacy is that the Egyptians created what is wrongly called Greek philosophy. Dr. James argues that the African origin of Greek Philosophy is well known but rarely discussed. Ancient Greek historians such as Herodotus and Diodorus the Sicilian wrote in significant detail about the contributions of Egypt. Egyptian technology and libraries were unmatched and Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato studied there. The contribution of Africa to the intellectual foundation of modern knowledge is tremendous but unacknowledged.
Bible Study The King James Bible (kjv), World English Bible (web) and Bible in Basic English (bbe) are all examples of public domain books. The King James Bible (kjv) online uses the content from these books and open source software to enhance Bible study capabilities. The site includes the verse of the day, search tools, christian literature and links to related content. It demonstrates the use of open source to create a valuable service.
Free Software provides computer programs and capabilities at no cost but more importantly, it provides the freedom to run, edit, contribute to, and share the software. The importance of free software is a matter of access, not price. Software at no cost is a benefit but ownership rights to the software and source code is far more significant.
Free Office Software - The Libre Office suite provides top desktop productivity tools for free. This includes, a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation engine, drawing and flowcharting, database and math applications. Libre Office is available for Linux or Windows.
Linux is an open source computer operating system (OS) used on laptops, games, watches and super computers. The software and the source code used for Linux are both available to you at no cost. Use this powerful resource to your advantage.
Source Code - Want to change a program or know how it works? Open Source provides the source code for its programs so that anyone can use, modify or learn how to write those programs themselves. Visit the GNU source code repositories to download the source.
Study at Harvard, Stanford or MIT - Open edX provides free online courses from Harvard, MIT, Columbia, UC Berkeley and other top Universities. Hundreds of courses for almost all major subjects and course levels. Open edx also offers some paid courses and selected certifications.
Linux Manual Pages - A man or manual page is a form of software documentation found on Linux/Unix operating systems. Topics covered include computer programs (including library and system calls), formal standards and conventions, and even abstract concepts.