An explanation of the difficulty of solving licenseproliferation in one sentence

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at
Wed Mar 9 19:46:26 UTC 2005

Michael Poole wrote:

> The GPL incompatibilities of the OpenSSL, Apache 2, and other licenses
> are -- whether real or simply perceived -- of significant concern and
> have already prohibited some unknowable amount of code reuse.  Future
> versions of those licenses or software may resolve the
> incompatibilities, but that will only happen due to license "reform"
> or relicensing advocacy.

Yeah, well...having hard numbers would be helpful here, but since they are
"unknowable" (er, difficult to come by), it would be better to have
different examples that hold up to minor scrutiny.

First, most reuse is local adaptations, not published derivative
works, and choice of licensing is a total non-issue.  (Unless acceptance
of the license has a poison patent pill, which would be good for open
source software, I think everyone here can agree.  Hmmm... or can we?....)

Second, so many other things prohibit "unknowable amounts of code reuse"
that licensing is an insignificant drop in the bucket.  Awareness of
what is available for reuse is at the top of the list.  Incompatible
C++ exception philosophy, assumption of stdin, stdout, stderr, using
strncpy, sprintf, other poor programming practices are more
significant barriers to acceptance to "reusable" code than licensing.

For your two specific examples...OpenSSL ships out of the box as shared/dynamic
libraries, so it is a non-issue, unless you have an axe to grind that
it isn't the GPL.    Anyone who needs the full Apache 2 server
features is going to be doing extensions as modules, not mixing code of
different licenses.

If you are referring to the OpenBSD refusal to accept the Apache 2 license
was the market working as it should.  One or the other will come around
eventually, or they won't.  (It isn't clear to me which the "right" side of
that particular case is, but OpenBSD was full aware of the consequences
of going it alone.  I wonder if ASF was.....)

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