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GPL v3 vs BSD Licensing March 18, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.

Over on InfoWorld they have an article on Eben Moglens recent keynote at the OSBC on GPL and BSD differences.  Basically they tear down the BSD style and proprietary licensing models.  Do I think that BSD and proprietary license development is done?  Hell no.  The only license I do not like is the GPLv3.  While its meant to help I dont think it will.  The GPLv3 is perhaps more restrictive than any proprietary license on the market.  I hear too much of what I cant do more than I hear what I can do.  I have to give up my patent rights (if I had any patents that is) I cant use DRM in my projects and according to Moglen, I wont be able to work out any deals to offer patent protection to my customers from other companies should I decide to.

The BSD license on the other hand lets me decide what I wish to do with code that I create.  Its less intrusive and its less than a page long unlike the GPLv3 which is 9 pages long and the GPLv2 which is six pages long and the GPL is so filled with legalese that I could swear there is a clause in there that says I have to donate a kidney to Stallman at some point.  While the GPLv3 will undoubtedly be used by many of Stallmas devout followers I dont think its the best license.

So on one hand you have the GPL with its 9 pages of restrictions and legalese and on the other hand you have a truly open license that gives control to the developer to do as he/she pleases with less than a handful of restrictions and doesnt force said developer to abandon his/her property rights.



1. ddewbofh - March 18, 2007

That post is worth a virtual beer, if I wasn’t too disorganised to blog I’d have written something similar myself. I’m a huge fan of the BSD- and MIT-licenses.

However, I think you’re being a little unfair over the number of pages. The GPL is meant to be a legal tool whereas the “proper” open source licenses are more about the code itself. So it’s understandable that they have to be more explicit.

2. specs - March 18, 2007

you can use drm all you like. But obviously it must come with the source code for gpl3; gpl2 didn’t think of drm since at the time Tivo didn’t lock their code to hardware with cryptographic keys. Don’t like it ,don’t use gpl’d software; take a look at the four freedoms.

Patents, well if a company put a patented code in GPL’d software, removed it, then sued anyone else who puts similar code in, it’s a problem. Software patents suck, EOLAS, Alcatel-MP3s anyone, MS?

3. Erik - March 21, 2007

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