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The software industry is split between two factions these days – those who believe in patenting their work and those who believe innovation is better served through open source.
An open source program is one that has its source code available for others to see, use and modify as they see fit. Open source programs are usually free, with developers selling other services such as customer support. In some cases, companies develop and sell proprietary products based on open source ones.
Proponents of open source say that innovation moves farther and faster when code is open to any developer with an innovative mind.