Open Source Software – Licensing Issues or Not

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia describes open supply as “practices in production and improvement that sell get admission to the end product’s resources.” Before the label open source was coined, developers and producers used a selection of terms to explain the concept. In fact, earlier researchers used a manner that is much like open standards to expand telecommunication community protocols. Characterized by using current open source work, this collaborative process led to the start of the Internet in 1969. Its application to software program won recognition with the emergence of the Internet. It is said that the open supply label got here out of a method consultation held at Palo Alto, California, in response to Netscape’s statement that it planned to release the supply code for its browser Navigator.

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The politically accurate version is that to clarify a potential confusion resulting from the anomaly of the phrase “unfastened”, so that the perception of free software isn’t anti-business, the label open supply (contributed by Chris Peterson) stuck. The logit model is that it was to shed the confrontational mindset that has been related to an unfastened software program in the past and sell the concept on pragmatic, business case grounds to the commercial global. Whatever it may be, Netscape listened and launched their code as open source beneath the name of Mozilla. That becomes the start of the modern open supply motion, whose important champion today allegedly is the Open Source Initiative (“OSI”) which makes and continues to make a case for the open source software to the commercial global. Consequently, we’ve visible the application of the open source philosophy in other fields together with biotechnology. Linus Torvalds, a Finnish software program engineer who initiated the improvement of the Linux kernel went as far as saying “the destiny is open source everything”.

According to the OSI, the case for open supply software program is straightforward – free get right of entry to study, redistribute and modify the source code of a few software consequences in a speedy evolutionary procedure that produces higher software program. Advocates of open supply argue that after programmers can study, redistribute, and regulate the supply code for a bit of software program, the software evolves. People improve it, humans adapt it, people restoration bugs. And this will happen at a velocity that, if one is used to the gradual tempo of conventional software program development, seems mind-blowing.

However, evangelists of unfastened software were at pains to make clear that open supply software is not synonymous with free software. The philosophy of the open source motion is primarily based on practicality and no longer ethical considerations at the same time as the loose software program is primarily based on freedom, not a fee. Borrowing from Richard M. Stallman, “loose software program” and “open source” describe the same category of the software program, greater or less, however, say various things approximately the software, and approximately values. While the 2 aren’t synonymous, each has a commonplace enemy – proprietary software program.

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Critics of open source say that open source fosters an ambiguity of a different kind, in that it confuses the mere availability of the supply code with the liberty to apply, alter, and redistribute it. But open supply does not simply suggest get admission to the supply code; the usage of open-source software program ought to observe a number of criteria including as to re-distribution, depending at the license below which it’s far distributed. Different licenses require special criteria. For instance, below the GNU General Public License (GPL) posted by using the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for licensing free software, any paintings based totally at the application or another derivative work must be licensed as an entire at no fee in any respect to all third events below the phrases of the GNU GPL, while an Apache License does no longer require derivative works to be open source. You can add your very own copyright assertion to changes of a source code under Apache License and provide additional or one-of-a-kind license phrases and situations for use, duplicate, or distribution of your modifications, or for any by-product works as a whole, supplied your use, replica, and distribution of the paintings otherwise complies with conditions of the Apache License. Similarly, there may be no requirement that any spinoff paintings created under an Academic Free License (AFL) or a Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) License, have to be distributed in any respect, or without cost, if dispensed. Further, any by-product paintings need no longer be free and you’ll price for it as you will for the proprietary software program.

The diffused licensing standards among open supply normally and unfastened software is similarly highlighted while you recollect that a few licenses aren’t compatible. For example, applications/supply code disbursed below PHP License is not well matched with GNU GPL for the reason that GNU GPL is a copyleft license. Which increases more than one licensing issues:

(1) Why are there exceptional standards underneath one of a kind licenses for open source software program? Presently, there are approximately 54 licenses certified with the aid of OSI as open supply – a tribute to OSI’s philosophy – which many now see as an unnecessary proliferation of licenses, a problem that compelled OSI to admit that –

“OSI’s method at the development and distribution troubles worried about building as many special bridges as viable between developers and the corporate world. In doing this, we established a proliferation of new licenses. This is a problem in that even though bodily bridges among communities do not interfere with every different, licenses do. Interference among extraordinary open-supply licenses is now perceived as a sufficiently extreme problem that OSI has to grow to be as a sufferer of its own in advance success.”

To deal with the problem of proliferation, OSI plans to take all present OSI accepted licenses and group them into 3 levels: (i) desired, (ii) recommended however no longer preferred, and (iii) not recommended. This is likely to create greater confusion. One would then ask why an OSI certified license would be OSI “not recommended” license. Would a ‘not advocated’ tag not be deemed as de-approval (even though OSI says it’s not). It could be ‘most suitable’ now not to have certified such license as OSI permitted in the first place.

(2) Why are a few licenses not compatible with others? We can also well respect that compatibility goes past the problem of license proliferation. For example, the FSF considers all variations of the Apache License incompatible with Version 2 of the GNU GPL. About version 2.Zero of the Apache License, they say:

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“The Apache Software License is incompatible with the GPL as it has a particular requirement that isn’t always within the GPL: it has sure patent termination cases that the GPL does no longer require. (We don’t suppose those patent termination cases are inherently a horrific idea, however, although they are incompatible with the GNU GPL.)”

(3) Don’t some of those licenses support a ‘one-way’ road attitude described by John Udell inside the Open Source Citizenship wherein builders are endorsed to take and now not provide again to the network. Or it may be akin to the situation defined by Stallman in which business builders invited to the “Open Source Developers Day” meeting in August 1998 said they want to make most effective a part of their paintings free software (or open source) on the grounds that the point of interest in their commercial enterprise is on growing proprietary accessories (software or manuals) to sell to the customers of the free software program. According to Stallman, those developers requested that this ought to be appearing as legitimate, as part of the network, because some of the money is donated to free software program development. Whichever manner you look at it, it’s far a risky fashion for the future of open supply software.