|Open software license usage|
|License||% of apps using it|
|Gnu General Public License (GPL) 2.0||50.1|
|Gnu Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1||9.6|
|Artistic License (Perl)||8.7|
|BSD License 2.0||6.3|
|Gnu General Public License (GPL) 3.0||5.1|
|Apache License 2.0||3.9|
|Code Project Open 1.02 License||3.4|
|Mozilla Public License (MPL) 1.1||1.3|
|Microsoft Public License (MS-PL)||1.0|
|Source: Black Duck Software|
[ If the table is not visible, you can see it at InfoWorld.com. ]
A big reason for the decline of GPL is that its terms severely limit a licensee's ability to remarket any code improvements. The claims that Eclipse's Milinkovich makes for the Eclipse license is typical of the GPL alternatives: "Our licensing is very much based on the notion that we want to be commercially friendly. ... The typical business model in the Eclipse ecosystem takes technology from the Eclipse community, adds commercial value on top of that, and commercially license the results."
The GPL effectively prevents businesses from fully reaping the financial benefits of any code enhancements they bring to a product, says Van Lindberg, a lawyer specializing in open source issues at Haynes and Boone. "Essentially, the rule with GPL is that the code that comes in GPL, and any improvements that are directly built on that, are to stay [in] GPL," he says. "You can sell code that is GPL'd; you just need to give certain guarantees and rights to people who receive the code, including the ability for them to pass it on without cost."
Appcelerator's Haynie notes that his company's decision to jump from GPL to Apache was made after many weeks of serious research and thought. "The move was made strictly on a business-case basis," he says. Haynie says that Apache removed GPL's code distribution roadblock without adding any significant disadvantages. "It furthered what we believed is our ultimate model of monetization," he says, particularly "because of the explicit patent language in the license, which gave us a little bit more [advantage] from a legal standpoint."
"The GPL guys are very much focused on a particular ideology about free software, and all software must be free, even if they have to force it to be free," Milinkovich says. "There are some people who almost look at it as a religious discussion -- the idea that there is only one set, or valid, open source license," echoes Jim Jagielski, chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, an alternative license provider.
The GPL was conceived as a way to ensure complete redistribution of intellectual property, notes Howard Kiewe, an analyst at Info-Tech research group. "That's no longer a suitable arrangement for many business-oriented licensees," he says.
[ Editor's note: InfoWorld tried to interview Richard Stallman, who runs the Free Software Foundation that created and manages the GPL, on this issue, but he demanded control of what we published, so we declined. ]