[opensource] Open Source Licence Challange

Daniel McEnnis daniel.mcennis at mail.mcgill.ca
Wed Apr 19 17:55:47 EDT 2006


I've been lurking on the list for a while.  I was a member of OSUOSS 4 
some years ago when I was at OSU for my undergrad.  (I'm currently 
finishing a masters at McGill in Montreal, Canada).  As someone who has 
released a few projects under opensource licenses, talking about the 
'best' license is not really productive.  Each license serves a 
particular purpose.  If your interest is in the greatest use of your 
code, then licenses like public domain, BSD, or MIT are useful.  If your 
interest is in building a really good library that you want as many 
people as possible to use, but you don't want anyone freeloading off 
your work to create a rival proprietary library, LGPL is quite useful.  
If your interest is making sure no one can free load off your 
application at all, GPL is a good choice. (Ironically, GPL is the most 
buisness friendly: it allows a company to opensource technologies while 
preventing any other company from folding their product back into a 
competing proprietary product.)  Picking a 'best' license is a good 
topic for a flame war, but it really doesn't serve a useful purpose.  
There are just too many different reasons to opensource something.

Daniel McEnnis.

Steven James Samuel Stapleton wrote:

> Greetings Ladies, Gentlemen and Artificial Intelligences...
> I am Jim Stapleton, a recent OSU graduate, who unfortunately never 
> knew about this club until I after graduation, when a still-undergrad 
> friend told me of it.
> With that introduction done, I have an idea for all of you, for a 
> little fun, mental exercise, community building, and what open source 
> is all about; giving to the world.
> I propose the Open Source License Challenge, wherein we discuss the 
> various open source licenses, their pros, cons, and maybe, just maybe, 
> create the best open source license ever, the OSU License!
> To start the thoughts, I'll give you mine on a couple of licenses
> I've always like the BSD/MIT licenses, they are truly free licenses, 
> granting the user a carte-blanche (sp?) to do what they want with the 
> software. Really, the only thing prohibited by the BSD/MIT license is 
> use of the author names as product endorsement.
>  PRO: Truly free, very open and friendly to any person or group
>  CON: Commercial organizations, and even non-commercial organizations, 
> can use software under this license, if it is the only one used, make 
> money off of it, and not provide a fair share/compensation to the 
> developers for their work.
> These two licenses, are related, but, in my opinion, still vastly 
> difference. I have trouble considering the GPL to be anything but the 
> Benedict Arnold of the free software licenses. Sure it claims to be 
> "free software", but it provides so many restrictions, that there are 
> closed source software licenses that give you more freedom. Not only 
> that but the GPL is somewhat viral, infecting software that uses GPLed 
> software. The LGPL allows for many use of software, without requiring 
> it be placed on the software that is using an LGPLed library.
>  PRO: Highly preventative of abusive use of the library/software for 
> 3rd party financial gain or use.
>  CON: Not flexible, rather restrictive, not as friendly for commercial 
> software (however commercial support works well)
>  PRO: Friendly for a wide variety of uses than the regular GPL, rather 
> well balanced, etc.
>  CON: Still somewhat restrictive, though not horribly, can still be 
> abused by people who want to make money off of someone else's work.
> The challenge: A "UNIX" themed license template, allowing for 
> flexibility and a wide variety of uses - keeping the advantages of 
> many licenses, and mending the drawbacks. How does one make a "UNIX" 
> themed license? Well the UNIX style of doing things is to have a lot 
> of little applications that can be glued together with a little 
> digital-glue to make applications to do other tasks. This license 
> would be a glue to hold together several licenses to help provide a 
> more flexible and friendly license for all parties. I was thinking of 
> something setup similar to a "switch" statement - many cases for 
> various users, and a default for everyone else, but that would not be 
> required. A context free grammar for the license would be interesting 
> as well...
> Even if you aren't interested in the challenge, a discussion on the 
> merits and problems of each license would be interesting.
> Have fun,
> -Jim
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