CA Backs Single Open-Source License

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-04-11 Print this article Print

Computer Associates is spearheading a campaign to create a single, common open-source license to which options can be added through a template.

Hoping to bring some order to the chaotic system of open-source licenses, Computer Associates International Inc. is spearheading a campaign to create a single, common open-source license to which options can be added through a template.

The Template License is designed to help address the proliferation of open-source licenses that currently exist—more than 60 at last count—many of which have never been updated and are unenforceable, said Sam Greenblatt, a senior vice president at CA, in Islandia, N.Y.

The company took a hard look at its complex Trusted Open Source License and decided that it did not want to be in the licensing business.
"We want to be able to create a template that can deal with the issue of internationalization. Some 60 percent of all our Linux revenue will come from outside the United States, and some 95 percent of the [Open Source Initiative]-approved licenses are unenforceable outside the United States," Greenblatt said.

Click here to read why Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols believes were in for a major open-source licensing fight. The Template License would be an overarching license that is internationally acceptable without much alteration, Greenblatt said. Open-source products would be licensed under the Template License, and a template addendum would be customized for other countries so as to meet their legal, patent and intellectual property laws. This would be done in association with a law firm local to that country. That way, the license would be enforceable in every nation where the product is sold, Greenblatt said.

Stuart Cohen, CEO of Open Source Development Labs Inc., in Beaverton, Ore., which employs Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds, confirmed his support for the Template License but said, "We dont expect to ever reach a point where one license serves all needs."

Eric Raymond, the founder of OSI, said the OSI board will be discussing CAs license proposal but had not yet decided to support it. While the idea of just one internationally acceptable and enforceable license is probably impossible due to the diversity of jurisdictions, the proposed CA license would be applicable in several countries with legal systems close to that of the United States. "We agree thats a good idea," Raymond said.

The OSI adopts a new way of approving open-source licenses. Click here to read more. While it is "both desirable and possible to sharply reduce the number of licenses in active use," a single non-GPL license was "almost certainly not possible," Raymond said.

"In our customer councils over the past year in Europe, Asia and the United States, as well as with governments and universities, all have been asking for OSDL to work on limiting the number of licenses that they need to review and accept in order to deploy open-source software," Cohen said. "If we can get the number of licenses that people broadly use down to a much smaller number, that would be a terrific next step."

Next Page: Other models under consideration.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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