Trend: Open-source software continues to adapt to the commercial and legal environment, to the dismay of some large software companies.
IBD summarizes the proposed revisions to the open-source software license that would eliminate some legal challenges and minimize abuses. Excerpts below.
Source: Investor's Business Daily: Open-Source License Key To Nascent Field (subscription required)
Proposed changes to the General Public License would be the first since the Free Software Foundation released version 2 in 1991. The group's founder, Richard Stallman, says he wants to head off new threats to Linux and other free software.
The license is important because it dictates how software can and can't be used. Free software may be free, but that doesn't mean you can use it any which way you like. And indirectly, the license rules shape the development process and affect how popular the software becomes.
Linux creator Linus Torvalds credits much of his software's success to the GPL, which is by far the most popular way to license open-source code.
While free to use, build on and redistribute, open-source software is still under copyright, and comes with strings attached. Those wanting to incorporate the code into their own work for public use must agree to several conditions.
• No one may use GPL-licensed code in new works that use anti-copying technology, or digital rights management, to restrict rights granted under the GPL.
• Developers can license their additions separately, so long as the terms are compatible with the GPL. This is designed to simplify mixing GPL-covered code with software that uses a different open-source license.
• Developers may withdraw rights to their code from companies that sue for infringements of software patents.