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The verdict is in, and the best open source license is...

30 Aug in BSD, Community, Company, Entrepreneurship, Legal, Video, EPL, GPL, Eclipse, Licenses
Eclipse

Which license is the best license for business? For community? For academia? For government? What are the key factors that influence the decision regarding an open source license? Are there certain things you should look out for?

This debate featured a panel of experts to examine the key factors influencing the decision to choose a particular license, as well as the subtle differences between the GPL, EPL, and BSD licences. These licenses cover a good range of the open source license spectrum.

The panel was:

Which Open Source License is Best? from Andrew Ross on Vimeo.

The video is also available in ogg format. As well, an mp3 is available.

The following are the judges decisions regarding who won the debate:

Thus the overall winner of the debate, the much coveted fosslc debate trophy, and bragging rights is...

Matt Asay whom advocated for the GPL. Congratulations Matt!

Short vignettes of the debate are also available.

We encourage comments. Anonymous posts are welcome. (spam will be nuked in short order)

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Comments

Anonymous - "I doubt anyone

Anonymous - "I doubt anyone is free from bias. Just because Randal's bias doesn't align with your world view does not make it invalid."

I agree with that. Of course anyone has biased even in debate. It's impossible to say that you have no biased at all. One example of simple bias? Why have you chosen that position or side of that topic, an obvious bias is there already. Whatever the statements were, as long as there are proofs, the rebuttal is still valid.

nice article

nice article

Great!

I like open source a lot.  I look forward to more posts from this site. 

Open Source Rocks!

I love open source projects because you can actually make the software adapt to what people want. If there is a problem someone actually fixes it to help everyone. I think it is great. I work for a credit card processing company and they never fix anything for years at a time. Thanks

Let me give you one piece of

Let me give you one piece of advice. This is a free software license, compatible with both GPLv2 and
GPLv3. It is based on the modified BSD License, and adds a term expressly stating it does not grant
you any patent licenses. Because of this, we encourage you to be
careful about using software under this license; you should first
consider whether the licensor might want to sue you for patent
infringement. If the developer is disclaiming patent licenses to
set up a trap for you, it would be wise to avoid the
program. But I always look for more information search engine.

Compared to what?

If GPL is a better license because of the commercial success and precedent or trust, does that make closed source licenses better than open source licenses? open source revenues and use are still a mere drop in the bucket compared with closed source. It sounds like that is the potential implication here.

Was Rob Enderle not free to judge?

That was a crooked panel you had there.Anyone could have told you were Randal Schwartz's bias is and what he was voting for before time.He openly despises free software and FSF, has no use for the GPL and is a Linux hater so he could have given you this answer before any of the speeches. You might have well asked Eric Raymond to give you his 'unbias' opinion as well as a judge, it is identical to Schwartz'.How about more CanCon next time? THere are more than enough FLOSS advocates in this country that you could have found two other puckheads next to Maxwell. Guys like Evan from Identica as an example.Its not bad overall, I like the fact that you put it on video since it seems that many FLOSS events still dont understand the power of communicating their message AFTER their event is done.I'll be back for more like this.Just dont call someone to judge when the bias is clear, it makes it look like a sham. It left a bad taste in teh mouth of the people at work this morning.

Free software has lost. Open source has won. We're all the bettr

Salut Ti-Guy!I dont really listen to FLOSS podcast, Ive been told its more Linux friendly now but I had my fill last year with Shwartz bashing free software/GPL (the guys from TLLS did a part on that ) that I just listen to Linux Outlaws, TLLS or other fine podcasts instead.My problem isnt with the judging since youre bound to be bias one way or another.If you had a canuck like Aaron Seigo (I agree that we should promote Cancon at these things. how about some guy like Robin Millette who is legendary in QC in free software?) on the panel, you know he would have been pro-GPL.So I cant say that Shwartz would have been less bias or more than Seigo or other GPL lover.Beside, you didnt take this seriously did you?For pete's sake, we have these kinds of events all the time and a recent one had Dan Lyons, the SCO mouthpiece and Rob Enderle wannabee at one just recently. Heck, Enderle spoke at one a few years back (but that was the thing that snakeoil salesmen Carmony organized so it made perfect sense.)What Lyons or Enderle have to teach is simply unfathomable.Then again, Im not an open source developer, all my projects are GPL family and one of themain reasons I joined them. I have no need/use/desire for BSD, Apache, MS-PL or other open sauce licenses. Is there use for other licenses? Of course. Not even the FSF argues against their existence. You choose the one which suits you. And one of the seems to suit many more people that all the other put together.Look, Im not a fan of Shwartz but I have a much BIGGER problem with Asay being the one defending the GPL. Seriously, the best analogy was given by our Java expert Marie-Josee who says its like having Dracula guard a blood bank. Right on the nose.Every week or so Asay comes out with anti-free software rants or bars, always reminding people how restrictive (not for users for companies) the GPL is and how its ran its course and with full of ESR quotes in hand, you more of less know that the GPL aint getting anything positive.This week is another beaut:http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10361785-16.htmland it starts and ends with: "Free software has lost. Open source has won. We're all the better for it."THIS is the guy you had defend the GPL?MJ is right on with that Dracula thing. (heck, Enderle would fit just as well)You couldnt have made a worse choice if you tried.How can someone defend the GPL when he worries about 'choice' when  Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study code.Every month we get the "GPL is dying" articles when it (and the family L, A, etc) is by far the most popular FLOSS license. Its a constant attack. The GPL still bothers (I truly believe that Microsoft could very well work with open source licenses but more than Linux or anything else, it is the GPL they fear/loath)There is a group of people for whom the GPL was useful but they want to alleviate the demands it 'imposes' on corporation. Those are people with agendas. Those are people for whom this is a zero sum game.Free software has to disappear for open sauce to win. I dont expect a mea culpa but we all laughed our asses of at work when we saw who the GPL defender was and we realized that this was nothing more than an exercice in PR so we took it for what is was worth.I fully expect Dracula next year.SylvainMontreal,QC

Don't be so dismissive

It is a bit derogatory to state this debate was nothing more than an exercise in PR. To what end? We are a non-profit run by volunteers who put many hours into helping people learn more about open source. Obviously there is a PR aspect to this event as any event that you don't want to sit by yourself. The event served its purpose and the video is a great reference for some of the important things an organization should consider when reviewing licenses.

I hear a lot of belly aching and personal attacks from from a tiny but vocal minority. Frankly I am not impressed. I haven't heard anything criticizing the positions themselves or the judges positions. Thus I challenge you to share with us any particular aspect of what the speakers said that was incorrect, invalid, incomplete, or where you can make a meaningful contribution to the discussion.

I wasn't judging the licenses... just the debate

Why yes indeed, I am biased.   I prefer a debate where the points are reasoned and presented well.  And since I was told to judge the debate and not the licenses, that's what my assessement reflects.Please read my detailed analysis, and see how scored each person.  I had no idea how my vote would actually turn out until I carefully played back the entire debate and scored each point for or against each presenter, and then summed it up.Matt Asay did a bad job at debate. That doesn't mean the GPL is a bad license. Resorting as he did (frequently) to the notion that "the GPL must be good, look at how many people use it" turned me off real quick, because popularity has nothing to do with merit.  In fact, in the chat during the live show, others were agreeing with me that this is just another version of "VHS has to be better, because it's more popular than Beta".  Sorry, doesn't fly.Actually, if Matt had just elaborated a bit with a connection between popularity and merit, I would have changed all my votes on that.  He could have said, for example, that if many projects all use the same license (no matter what it is), they're much easier to combine into distros.  That would have been a linking point that justified the remaining mentions of popularity.  But no, he failed.In fact, having listened to the debate, I started looking at the EPL, because the presentation for the EPL was well thought out and justified.If you have a specific argument with any of my observations, please elaborate.  But don't confuse my conclusion about the debate with any conclusion about the merits of the licenses that I might have.  I remained objective.  Can you also be objective in that way?

Everyone's a critic

Thank you for the interest. Glad you liked the video. I agree with the comment about no such thing as an unbiased judge. I encourage you to comment based on the merit of their decisions rather than them personally.

Give me a break

I doubt anyone is free from bias. Just because Randal's bias doesn't align with your world view does not make it invalid.