A call for license disarmament


Author: Matt Asay

A maelstrom of discontent has recently arisen over open source license proliferation. Martin Fink kicked it off with his Linuxworld keynote (available here in PDF), wherein he said:

Many people don’t realize that there are dozens and dozens of open source licenses today. There is really no value and much confusion in having that many licenses. If you’re a vendor and you plan to create a new license: Stop, please don’t.

The argument is that open source license proliferation breeds uncertainty (license incompatibilities, as well as simply knowing what the various licenses say/mean) which, in turn, creates costs and slows open source software adoption. Don Rosenberg, author of “Open Source: The Unauthorized White Papers,” has written persuasively on the problem, which I blogged here.