Web 2.0 and the open source 1.0 ball-and-chain

An interesting thing is happening. Technology is moving forward. The licenses that govern that technology are not. I just spent the last two hours with Bungee Labs, a company that is basicaly building Sourceforge for the 21st Century. Here's what its website says:Bungee Labs is developing a 100% on-demand service environment for efficiently developing and instantly deploying next generation web applications. Bun

An interesting thing is happening. Technology is moving forward. The licenses that govern that technology are not.

I just spent the last two hours with Bungee Labs, a company that is basicaly building Sourceforge for the 21st Century. Here's what its website says:

Bungee Labs is developing a 100% on-demand service environment for efficiently developing and instantly deploying next generation web applications. Bungee Labs will provide an extensible, end-to-end environment delivered over the web: no install for developers, no installation of delivery infrastructure, and no client install for end users. (i.e., without the programming complexity that AJAX requires today)....

Bungee Labs enables the full life-cycle of web applications through a ubiquitously available on-demand development and delivery service environment, supplemented by an active developer community intent on expanding the realm of the possible.

This (intentionally) vague overview does nothing to describe the richness of the licensing required to facilitate a developer community "in the cloud, of the cloud, and for the cloud." How do you open source on the web? The only major open source license that doesn't really care about an online/offline distinction is the BSD and its variants. Everything else contemplates a software world that is increasingly irrelevant.

I've recently criticized the Free Software Foundation for lobotomizing GPLv3 (i.e., removing its relevance for the online world), but the same criticism could be leveled at nearly every OSI-approved license. They're all written for 20th-Century software.

I believe we're on the cusp of a hugely disruptive change in the way open source software is licensed. The OSI, of which I'm part, is against license proliferation. But the community and OSI will need to figure out how to make open source relevant to the online world, without stifling the creativity that has built it. This is a non-trivial problem, and it is a problem.

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