Is Adafruit bounty open source or piracy?

Summary:Because something is useful, and available, and valuable, does this make it fair game?

Adafruit is offering $2,000 for an "open source" interface with Microsoft's Kinect, which shipped with the latest XBox.

Kinect, for those of you who have been under a rock since before the recent election, is operated without a controller. It tracks the user's movements with a camera, depth sensor, microphone and software algorithms. Microsoft hopes to make the motion detection technology part of Windows 8.

Note that Adafruit, a robotics company, did not ask for a Kinect clone, just a connection, and they insist there are good reasons. It could be used to read sign language, or in robotics.

Microsoft was not amused, which caused Adafruit to double the bounty to its present figure. Perhaps because of the cheek, there are already reports that a winner is ready to be crowned.

But is the result open source? Or is it just piracy?

I have little doubt Microsoft will call it the latter, and their lawyers make more money than I do. There are also more of them than there are ZDNet bloggers.

But history tells us that once something gets into the wild it will be used -- witness peer-to-peer technology.

The question for the open source community is how we really feel about this.

Because something is useful, and available, and valuable, does this make it fair game? Can an open source license be valid on what a proprietary company insists is an illegal technology?

This may be where the movement divides, between the "information wants to be free" crowd and the "open source is business" crowd. The former care more for what's right, the latter insist on following the law.

Which side are you on?

UPDATE: An open source driver for the Kinect is now online.

[poll id="118"]

Topics: Open Source, Emerging Tech, Microsoft, Piracy, Security

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.