Is GPLv3 the Best Choice License for Most Inclusive Incorporation of Existing Social Code/Coders?

Last Updated on November 29th 2011

raviiyer.org would like to develop FOSS products which can be most inclusive in the following aspects:
A) Permission to incorporate/re-use existing free software components/contributions.
B) Allowing FOSS contributors of various FOSS license philosophies to contribute.

I am really a newbie at this Open Source license business. So I may be making some huge mistakes in my analysis. With that disclaimer out of the way :), let me first examine A) Permission to incorporate/re-use existing free software components/contributions.

My understanding of the license compatibility picture (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3-compatibility.png) from GPLv3 Quick guide (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html) is that software (components) released under a host of other licenses including ASL 2.0 (Apache License 2.0) can be used by software which uses GPLv3 license.

But software (components) released under GPLv3 license cannot be used by software released under ASL 2.0.

So if raviiyer.org uses GPLv3 license then a larger set of FOSS components becomes available for use/incorporation as compared to ASL 2.0. Perhaps GPLv3 license will allow the maximum range of FOSS components to be used/incorporated, and therefore, perhaps, GPLv3 is the most inclusive license for incorporating/re-using existing FOSS components/contributions.

Now let me examine B) Allowing FOSS contributors of various FOSS license philosophies to contribute.
Some GPL proponents may not be willing to contribute to software to be released under ASL as the latter allows for proprietary/closed software to use FOSS released under ASL (and some other reasons too perhaps).
ASL proponents may not mind contributing to software to be released under GPL. They would prefer that it be ASL but may not refuse to contribute simply because the license used is GPL. Other “permissive license” proponents (like BSD & MIT) may also have a similar mindset.

So GPLv3 may be the most inclusive license for allowing FOSS contributors of various FOSS license philosophies to contribute.

Therefore GPLv3 seems to be the best choice license for most inclusive incorporation of existing social code/coders, and so raviiyer.org should go with GPLv3 instead of ASL 2.0.

The downside will be that proprietary/closed software cannot use raviiyer.org software products. But given that raviiyer.org has a focus on service to relatively poor rural society and not on a rich “market” that may be a far more acceptable downside than having lesser range of software components to use and lesser number of contributors.

Of course, at this point of time, raviiyer.org has no software products at all – don’t know whether it will really produce useful products in future – so all this discussion is really in the air, as of now :). But in case it really gets going then this license decision may turn out to be an important one.

Now I feel I should go with GPLv3 for raviiyer.org. Plan to get comments/views from friends on this post before finalizing the decision.

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