Posted by Peter Tanner | March 16, 2012
There have been some very interesting
posts on open source licenses in the past few days – prompted by a complaint
about IBM's strategy in integrating the Symphony development work with
the OpenOffice project.
What is interesting about these blogs is that they make good comparisons
between the Apache (permissive) and GPL (restrictive) licensing paradigms.
Ian Skerrett leads off with a blog
in which he takes issue with the claim that “LGPL … keeps developers
'honest'; the Apache-License 2.0 will not”. Both Ian's article and
Matthew Aslett's blog
make a strong case that permissive licenses (Apache et al) are slowly displacing
copyleft/restrictive licenses. This is certainly something that we
see in OpenNTF – where the authors of over 90% of our submitters have
chosen to use Apache rather than one of the GPL family of licenses. (And
those who do choose GPL tend to have far more issues with incompatibility
of components – but that's another story.)
Finally, the most comprehensive of the blogs is Douglas Heintzman,s explanation
of IBM's strategy of transitioning Symphony development to the Apache-based
OpenOffice project. In developing his argument, Doug provides a good
description of the viral mechanism that copyleft licenses (such as GPL)
use to “enforce disclosure of code modifications” - and contracts that
with the permissive licensing regime – and why the latter is “more attractive
to corporate vendors, and facilittes corporate investment of resources.
Well worth reading.