Let your Engineers Choose the License: A Guide


Each open source project and community is unique and there are social aspects to these communities that may have preferences towards various licensing philosophies (e.g., copyleft or permissive). Engineers working in those communities understand all these issues and are best equipped to choose the proper license on this knowledge. Mandating certain licenses for code contributions often will conflict with these community norms and result in reduction or prohibition in contributed content.

For example, perhaps your organization believes that the latest GPL license (GPLv3) is the best for your company due to its updated provisions. If you mandated GPLv3 for all future contributions vs. GPLv2, you would be prohibited from contributing code to the Linux kernel, since that is a GPLv2 project and will likely remain that way for a very long time. Your engineers, being part of that open source community project, would know that and would automatically choose GPLv2 in the absence of such a mandate.

Bottom line: Enabling engineers to make these decisions is wise and efficient.

To the extent your organization may have to restrict the use of certain licenses (e.g., due to certain intellectual property concerns), this should naturally be part of your guidelines or policy.

Read more at OpenSource.com