Photo Credit: Flickr User Jason A. Samfield
Note: To apply for the News Challenge, and read our FAQ, visit NewsChallenge.org.
A friend recently wrote that “open-source licenses are one of the most confusing things on the planet.” We see a need to better explain the open source rules for the Knight News Challenge, and our rationale for developing them. A couple of recent Twitter threads make it clear that there are outstanding questions about our policies.
At Knight Foundation, we are fans of open source software. Our mission as a foundation is to inform and engage communities. We want the tools and platforms that we fund to be widely used. We believe projects built using open source code are more likely to spread, and be built upon, than those that rely upon proprietary software. Panda and Overview , two projects supported through the 2011 News Challenge, are now open for developers to work on. Earlier this month, our collaboration with Mozilla Foundation relaunched as OpenNews, and “is about helping journalism thrive on the open Web.” All told, we’ve provided support to some 76 open source projects since the News Challenge launched in 2007.
One criteria we use when selecting Knight News Challenge winners is potential social impact. We think that the use of open source code is a key part of achieving that impact. However, as my colleague Jose Zamora recently wrote (and as the head in the wall points out partway through this video), we will also accept proposals that use other licenses or proprietary code. To be clear: we prefer projects that are open source. But if you or your company have a rationale for a non-open source project, we will consider it.
Each year, we receive questions, and criticism, about our use of the General Public License. This year, some have again argued that we have chosen the wrong open source license. For now, GPL is the standard license we’ve selected to offer to our grantees. We are also open to consider other licenses on a case-by-case basis.