August 10, 2018; TechCrunch
In another sign of how mainstream “open source” technology has become, last Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—you know, the folks who award the Oscars—officially partnered with the Linux Foundation to create the Academy Software Foundation, an open-source repository for film and media makers.
The founding members are a who’s-who list of Hollywood and tech companies, including Animal Logic, Blue Sky Studios, Cisco, DreamWorks, Epic Games, Google, Intel, SideFX, Walt Disney Studios, and Weta Digital.
The Academy Software Foundation, reports Frederic Lardinois in TechCrunch, aims “to coordinate cross-project efforts; to provide a common built and test infrastructure; and to provide individuals and organizations a clear path to participation in advancing out open source ecosystem,” according to its mission statement.
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According to a two-year survey by the Academy, nearly 84 percent of the industry uses open-source software already, mostly for animation and visual effects. But the foundation notes that challenges persist, “including siloed development, managing multiple versions of OSS libraries (version-itis) and varying governance and licensing models need to be addressed in order to ensure a healthy open source community.”
The story itself is pretty unremarkable, except that we can all recall when open-source was one of those wild, crazy ideas that could not possibly work—also, how could the manufacturing of open-source software possibly be considered a reasonable mission for a nonprofit to have? While nonprofit advocacy groups for open-source software such as the Free Software Foundation have been around since the 1980s, it was just four years ago when NPQ’s Ruth McCambridge wrote about how the Internal Revenue Service was denying applications for open source groups that sought tax exemptions. As McCambridge noted then, there is often a learning curve until the public benefit of having a common resource like publicly available software becomes obvious. Nonprofit journalism groups, too, once faced this problem until the public information benefit of these nonprofits proved obvious.
In any case, whatever challenges this new foundation may face, we’re pretty sure that IRS denial of tax exemption won’t be one of them.—Steve Dubb