Open Source License List Should Be Shorter

Lora Bentley

Commenting on IBM VP Bob Sutor's vision of what open source will be in the next decade, InformationWeek blogger Serdar Yegulalp says the day has come when the number of open source licenses should be pared down.


Because open source has become more mainstream, it's better for those choosing a license to go with one that's been kicked around a bit -- one with which community members and consumers are comfortable -- rather than drafting their own license that will rarely be used. Before, when open source was not widespread, he says, it was easier to get away with using a lesser-known license, but now doing so can work against you. (Maybe that was part of Sun Microsystems' rationale for choosing GPL for Solaris and Java rather than using its own CDDL? Just a thought.)


And like Yegulalp points out, even though there are 60-plus Open Source Initiative-approved licenses, a handful of them cover the great majority of projects that exist today. It wouldn't be hard to excise those that aren't used all that often and then encourage those who are starting new projects to choose an existing license. But then again, it seems the open source community at large has talked about decreasing license proliferation for years, and it hasn't happened yet.


What's the holdup?

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