Shaun Connolly at JBoss has a post about “What’s in a Subscription“. Shaun states:

“Put simply, a Subscription is comprised of:
1. Software bits
2. Patches and updates to the bits
3. Support in the use of the bits
4. Legal assurance”

The fact that OSS vendors have to use legal assurance/indemnity as a method for driving subscription purchases is due to the general FUD around OSS licensing, patents and copyrights. Things like copyrights & patents are vendor issues and should not be made customer issues.

Do any of us care that the Blackberry of iPod we use may have patent infringing technology inside? Or that these devices may include some copyrighted material (a la the software) inside? No, we expect that the vendors who sell us these products have taken care of that for us. Staying on the right side of the IP law line is another cost of doing business for RIM & Apple in this example. As a customer I may pay for this cost in the total cost of the product, but IP assurance is not used as a customer benefit, just as “we didn’t pollute more than government guidelines allowed when building this product” is not used as a customer benefit. Again, isn’t IP assurance a vendor cost and issue? Why have we made this a concern for customers?

What am I missing?
PS: I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”