Opentape: Not Quite Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 26, 2008

As reported on our parent blog GigaOM, there's a new piece of software out there trying to fill the niche recently occupied by Muxtape. Muxtape, as you may know, is a music sharing and mixing site that's apparently been shut down by the RIAA. Now there's Opentape, which bills itself as "a free, open-source package that lets you make and host your own mixtapes on the web." But is it?

If you download and unzip the Opentape source, you'll find a mix of PHP, JavaScript, and CSS. Two things that you won't find are a readme file or any sort of license notice. So, though the code may now be in the public domain, it's not really open source: your own rights to redistribute this code are, at best, murky.

Looking further into the individual files reveals something else. The Opentape distribution includes pieces of getID3(), MooTools, and SWFObject, none of which is accompanied by the required license agreement. The source files are not obfuscated, so it's easy to tell where they come from - perhaps neglecting to include the licenses is merely an oversight. It's an especially odd one in the light of the fact that all three packages are licensed under BSD or MIT licenses, so the Opentape authors are free to use the code - if they give proper credit.

Opentape appears, in its current state, to offer an especially stark example of the connection between copyrights and open source. At least one developer who can't be bothered about music copyrights can't be bothered about software copyrights either. It doesn't seem that this is a good way to call for support from the open source community.