Sun CTO: New License Protects Developer Rights

Greg Papadopoulos says Sun's Common Development and Distribution License is "more liberal in its IP license than even the GPL, because it gives a clear patent license and doesn't demand the same viral propagation."

Sun Microsystems chief technology officer Greg Papadopoulos on Monday added his voice to the chorus of Sun executives explaining their rationale for using the newly created Common Development and Distribution License for their Open Solaris project.

"Open software is fundamentally about developer freedom," Papadopoulos said.

But many in the open-source community, including Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds, believe that Sun chose to create the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) to specifically avoid letting its Solaris code be able to be combined with code licensed under the GPL (GNU General Public License).

"We want developers to freely use any of the Open Solaris code that we developed for their purposes without any fear of IP [intellectual property] infringement of Sun: either patent or copyright. We chose a license, the CDDL, an improvement of MPL [Mozilla Public License], that clearly and explicitly gives that freedom," he said.

But Torvalds said he sees no such freedom in the license choice, telling eWEEK recently that Sun "wants to keep a moat against the barbarians at the gate."

"I think there are parallels with the Java well control the process model," he said. "I personally think that their problem is that they want to control the end result too much, and because of that, they wont get any of the real advantages of open source."

In comments posted to his first "official" blog on Monday and titled "My views on open source," Papdopoulos disagreed, further defending the CDDL by saying that complementary to developer freedoms are developer rights. He said code developers do have rights to the code they have developed, as this is, after all, the fruit of their labor.

"By choosing to place that code under an open-source license, a developer surrenders some of those rights to the community in the hopes of a beneficial exchange. No open-source license surrenders all rights. The way you do that is to place code in the public domain," he said.

Adding fuel to the fire of which license is more open, Papadopoulos said the CDDL is "more liberal in its IP license than even the GPL, because it gives a clear patent license and doesnt demand the same viral propagation."

"Yes, I know thats a view divergent from many who believe GPL is open source, but I happen to believe choice and freedom go hand in hand," he said.

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