Sun is proposing that open-source developers be paid for the revenue-generating technology that they have made available for free.
At the CommunityOne and NetBeansDay events in San Francisco on Monday, Rich Green, Sun executive vice president for software, expressed doubts about the current model in which open-source developers create free intellectual property and have others scoop it up to generate huge amounts of revenue.
"It really is a worrisome social artifact," Green said. "I think in the long term that this is a worrisome scenario [and] not sustainable. We are looking very closely at compensating people for the work that they do."
The current scenario is Robin Hood backwards: stealing from the poor and making others rich, said Green. He stressed that Sun, however, is the number-one contributor to open source worldwide.
There is a need to work closely with those in the open-source community to share revenues, said Green.
"I'm sure we're going to do that," Green said, without providing specific details on how this would be done.
A CommunityOne attendee, Steve Bilan, an independent software engineer, said he would not be motivated to develop an open-source project just because there was money on the table.
"I would only do [a project] if I was interested," in it, said Bilan, who described himself as somewhat of an open-source developer.
Meanwhile, author Tim O'Reilly said at CommunityOne that the days in which developer salaries differ based on the nation where the developer is located were numbered. Developers overseas now are asking why they should get paid less than others, he said.
"We're actually coming to the end of cheap outsourcing," O'Reilly said.