The BBC’s rules for publishing open source software

posted by Steve Bowbrick

Basic Guidelines

The software should meet the following criteria:

  • The software must have no or negligible commercial application or value, and is unlikely, if licensed, to bring revenue back to the BBC.
  • The software is ‘non-mission critical’, and there are not likely to be any competitive uses of the software which might enable a third party to profit from the BBC’s investment.
  • The BBC intends to re-use the software and it is therefore of direct benefit to the BBC to have it examined and tested by the wider population.
  • Internal feedback from use of the software solely within the BBC is not as beneficial to the BBC as external feedback.
  • There has been full internal testing of the software and the BBC is satisfied that the risk of damage arising from the use of the software by third parties is negligible.

In addition to the above criteria, software should NOT be released on a royalty-free basis to the general public if:

  • The software would otherwise give the BBC a direct competitive advantage that it would lose following such release.
  • There are intellectual property rights within the work that the BBC may want to retain for re-use or exploitation at a future date.
  • There is a significant risk that the BBC could, unwittingly, be infringing third party intellectual property rights in the code that the BBC has developed.
  • The software is a ‘one-off’ development by the BBC and it is not prepared to maintain the code.
  • The quality of the software is appropriate for the BBC’s internal purposes but does not meet external standards.

Thanks to Rob Hardy, Software Engineer Team Leader, FM&T Vision, for lifting these rules from his department’s wiki.

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