If the data is open, is it free game? (Palamida vs. Black Duck)

Is Black Duck stealing from its competitor?

Black Duck has admitted to "borrowing" Palamida's database of open-source projects/licenses, without giving attribution or any other indication that it had taken the data from Palamida. Legal? Yes. Wrong? Seems like it to me.

After two days of intense investigation, we have confirmed that most of our database has been copied directly--word for word and misspelling for misspelling, with very few original additions to our initial work," said Palamida spokeswoman Melisa LaBancz-Bleasdale.

Just because one can do something doesn't mean that one should.

Black Duck argues that it only uses a "small slice" of Palamida's data. Maybe. But apparently it was enough to be noticeable to Palamida. It seems to me that the two should collaborate on this sort of database, but this kind of action hardly leads to the trust required for collaboration.

Is Black Duck in the wrong? Thoughts?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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