For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Russell Nelson nelson at
Thu Sep 25 15:26:30 UTC 2003

Ken Brown writes:
 > You are making some very legitimate points.  Last year, Bruce Perens, one of
 > the most active proponents of the GPL, said the exact same thing at an open
 > source conference, the GPL has limited commercial applications.

Bruce is wrong.  In fact an inheritive license (e.g. GPL or OSL) is
the premier commercial license, as part of a dual-licensing scheme.
Look at the trouble Linksys has gotten into over the GPL.  Nobody has
managed to compile their sources into the same binaries Linksys is
distributing.  On the other hand, if a single company owned the
copyright on the GPL distribution, it could license the software for
distribution under a proprietary license.

Actually, it's more likely that Larry Rosen's Open Software License
would be preferred by a business since it's a contract.  The GPL
insists that it's not a contract even though it tries to bind you to
things that only a contract can do.

But the key to using the GPL to license software for profit is to own
all the copyrights.  Maybe this seems mercenary, and totally against
the principles espoused by the Open Source Initiative?  It needn't
be.  A proprietary license might require donations of code and include
a release from the GPL.  This is worth money to a company because it
reduces their risk.  Or if not an outright donation of code, then a
transfer of technology, or patent licenses.

The key is to NOT get locked into one business model.  That's what the
RIAA has done, and it's going to result in a massive shift of business
away from the labels that make up the RIAA.  If conditions change and
your business model doesn't, you are hosed.

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