An explanation of the difficulty of solving license proliferation in one sentence

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Wed Mar 9 18:01:27 UTC 2005

"Forrest J. Cavalier III" <mibsoft at> writes:

> Licenses exist to serve the needs of the SOFTWARE AUTHORS.

I don't entirely agree.

Clearly OSI can not force anybody to adopt a license which they do not
want to adopt.  The most OSI can do is withhold certification.  As a
practical matter, that is not going to be a major burden for most

That said, users of open source software also have needs.  I might
want to hook two pieces of open source software together, and even
release the result as an open source project.  That is entirely in the
spirit of open source as I understand it.  Obviously I would have to
release the result under a license which is compatible with both of
the original projects.

I believe that the open source community is best served if determining
that compatible license is a trivial matter.  I believe that nobody is
served by having open source code balkanized into several incompatible
licensing regimes.  The GPL/BSD license split has been bad enough over
the years, and that provides one-way compatibility in that GPL code
can use BSD code.


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