A Spectrum of Licenses
The committee also wanted to reflect a spectrum of licenses, from a strong copyleft one to a very permissive one in each category, she said. There are nine licenses in the "popular, widely used category," including the Apache License 2.0, the new BSD license, the GNU GPL (General Public License), the LGPL ("Lesser" General Public License), the MIT license, Mozilla Public License 1.1, Common Development and Distribution License and Eclipse Public License.Free to be GPL 3? Click here to read more.There are also nine licenses that are categorized as "redundant with more popular licenses," including the Academic Free License, and the Attribution Assurance License. Among the 24 non-reusable licenses are the Apple Public Source License, the Computer Associates Trusted Open Source License 1.1, the IBM Public License, the PHP License, the Sleepycat License and the Sun Public License. The goal of the Licensing Proliferation committee was never to recommend the removal of any existing licenses, Peters said, but rather to help drive people to a smaller subset of those licenses. But, at the same time, the committee also realized that licenses needed to be upgraded from time to time and so there will be new licenses that come out and new versions of licenses approved, such as the upcoming GPL version 3.0. "Our goal has never been to eliminate licenses per se," she said. Peters also criticized the ever-growing list of boutique licenses that are springing up, such as the SugarCRM Public License, which are not approved by OSI as meeting the open-source definition. "Having people in different places saying that their licenses are open source when they are not OSI-approved could ultimately undermine open source," she said. Click here to read more about SugarCRMs licensing choices. The second piece of the committees draft report was a recommendation that the OSI board create a license wizard that allows users to go through and identify the characteristics that they feel are important for their particular model. That helps them then narrow down the selection, Peters said. The draft report notes that volunteers from University of Southern California law school and the San Francisco State engineering department are currently working on this Web-based wizard, which will allow people to see which open-source licenses meet criteria that they find important. "For example, if a user indicates that having a copyleft license with explicit patent grants is important, the wizard will look through the OSI-approved licenses and output a list of licenses that meet [or almost meet] those criteria," it says. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.