The Open Source Licensing Implosion - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
8/8/2008
12:10 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The Open Source Licensing Implosion

I read Bob Sutor's words about an impending implosion in both open source licenses and standards-setting bodies, and found myself nodding: It's not just that there are "too many open source licenses," but that the consequences for blithely creating new ones are finally becoming concrete.

I read Bob Sutor's words about an impending implosion in both open source licenses and standards-setting bodies, and found myself nodding: It's not just that there are "too many open source licenses," but that the consequences for blithely creating new ones are finally becoming concrete.

I doubt anyone reading this would say there aren't enough open source software licenses out there. That said, the vast majority of open source products out there use a small handful of licenses -- the GPL, the Apache license, the MIT license, the various "badgeware" licenses, and so on. The rest tend to be outriders or derivatives of varying kinds, each with their own justifications for being adopted.

It was easier to get away with a broad proliferation of licenses back when open source was still a relatively rare and exotic variety of bird in the software bestiary. Now that open source is becoming (gasp) a mainstream phenomenon, using one of the less-common licenses or coming up with one of your own works against you more often than not.

In one of the discussions I was having at the Red Hat Summit, I mentioned that picking a well-known license sends a certain signal to the communities that flock around your product. This is not about just the ideals that are reflected in the license itself (and reflected by other products that use the same license), but about what kind of future your product will have in the marketplace if you're using a license that hasn't been given a public shakedown of sorts.

Another way to put it: It's not the programmers that will determine what open source licenses are the best -- it's the software consumers. They'll be the ones narrowing down the forest of licensing to a few well-pruned and -maintained trees. The better for us all not to get lost amongst them.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
Commentary
The Growing Security Priority for DevOps and Cloud Migration
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/3/2020
Commentary
Dark Side of AI: How to Make Artificial Intelligence Trustworthy
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  9/15/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
Slideshows
Flash Poll