Today hackers broke into a server containing the source code and unencrypted binaries for Skype. The Internet is aflame with the idea of Skype going “open-source” but this is no more open-source than stuxnet.
To be clear, the open-source movement is not about theft. If anything, it is the opposite: one of the purest forms of universal giving. To say that “liberating” the Skype source code is tantamount to open-sourcing the software is to cast a lie in the face of the open source movement. Privatization of software is a legitimate pursuit for commercial game; just because you want something to be open doesn’t force the creator to make it open. In order to have open-source, the world needs camaraderie, a giving attitude and morals, something obviously lacking in the character of these thieves.
Does having Skype’s source code make it so the world is a more open place? Probably not. The only insight we might gain from such code is about the implementation of the backdoor’s required by our government. In reality, all that is Skype is replicable, and has been for some time. Skype’s advantage was their engineering, but now their advantage lies in their ubiquity. I think hiding behind the shield of open-source while stealing code is a particularly heinous act.
What will happen when Enterprises see this? Will they ask “is this how Open-source works?”. The answer is of course not, but the damage this does to a movement that’s gaining legitimacy on the world stage is considerable.
Stealing code isn’t right and it’s not open-source. Hiding behind that guise discredits the entire open-source community. I think code is poetry, and that eloquence deserves to be honored. I also think everyone should open-source their software, because it’s a fundamentally superior method of development. In the end, my beliefs don’t give me the right to force my opinions on others, and it wouldn’t matter how much code I stole; people have a right to do what they want with their intellectual property and this right shouldn’t be abridged under the mask of liberation. Theft is anything but liberal.