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How do you define ‘commercial open source’?

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Adobe has announced that it is sponsoring the SQLite public domain database engine project by joining Mozilla and Symbian on the SQLite consortium. The news is interesting in that it balances Google’s recent sponsorship of efforts to support Photoshop on Linux, while it also raises an interesting question about Microsoft’s attempt to define commercial open source.

The sponsorship of open source projects such as these is a timely reminder that in the open source world there is a blurred line between commercial and non-commercial. Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will offer free access to the APIs and protocols for its core products was accompanied by a “covenant not to sue open source developers for development or non-commercial distribution of implementations of these protocols”.

Where do the Google and Adobe sponsorships fit in to this picture?

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