Last Updated on Nov. 25th 2011
Edited mail exchange with a friend is given below.
Friend wrote: Yea, custom licenses are a pain to deal with because the lawyers should check for conformance again. Lawyers say they don’t like this, because it’s useless work and adds delays.
Ravi responded: Noted & understand how acceptable a well recognised license like GPL/ASL/CC is, not only to lawyers but to users & developers.
Friend responded back: Oh, yes, not using custom licenses helps developers too and not just lawyers. I know I can use bsd or apache in an iPad app, bsd or apache or gpl in a web app, etc.
Friend wrote: I think apache is an excellent license. Like bsd, it allows people to create closed versions of your work, but it’s a more modern license than bsd and spells out things that bsd doesn’t, for example regarding patents. Lawyers love this, needless to say.
Ravi: That’s useful input. One of the points brought out in my reading of GPLv3 quick guide was how the legal landscape for software is changing fast, and so these licenses need to keep pace with it.
Friend wrote: As for gpl, I don’t like it. When I work on open source, I want everyone to use it. Software is not zero sum, and If a proprietary version exists, it doesn’t take anything away from the world. Proprietary guys bring their own advantages, like the ability to focus on the user experience and develop usable software.
Ravi: I entirely agree. Money is the great motivator :). And many software shops are able to make money only through proprietary/closed software. Making money is not bad 🙂 – so long as you contribute something worth the money to society. [Update: Note that GPL is not against commercialization (making money); it is only against proprietary/closed software.]
Friend wrote: Then there are stupid stuff like license incompatibilities where for example work from the Linux kernel like a driver or a filesystem can’t be used in FreeBSD.
Ravi: Oh! I did not realize license incompatibilities can hit that bad. I wonder whether in such a scenario re-engineering [or directly imitating in this case :)] the driver would be OK. May resolve the copyright/copyleft issue but I wonder whether there is a patent issue too.
Friend wrote: Apache licensed software doesn’t face this problem.
Windows uses (or at least used) the tcp ip stack from FreeBSD. I don’t know about you, but if I were the original developer of the stack, I wouldn’t be upset at all. In fact it would be a great achievement to power the majority of computers on the Internet.
Ravi: I certainly wouldn’t be upset at all and would be very happy that so many guys are benefiting.