Middleware and Open Source Aren't a Perfect Match

Patrick Avery

IT Business Edge contributor Loraine Lawson recently interviewed Craig Muzilla, vice president of JBoss, Red Hat's middleware division. In that conversation, he addresses open source licensing concerns. He says the one license that causes the most problems for middleware is the General Public License.


"A requirement for General Public License is if you've modified code or added codes, if you add some of your own capabilities, you're committed to then submit that same code you have created in the same license you have to make it available - available as GPL into the original project. They call that upstream," Muzilla said. "So for an application developer, let's say maybe an ISV (independent software vendor) that is creating an application and they want to sell it, but they want to use some open source components underneath. Even an end-user company - it could be Bank of America or General Motors or whoever is creating applications based on some of these tools - would have an obligation under the GTL to submit the code back. I think it becomes a very, very gray area."


Muzilla said that it's a gray enough area that if you are concerned about intellectual property, you may think twice before using some of these licensing mechanisms.


Open source issues are a common concern and some of the Knowledge Network documents address topics in that area, including Open Data Standards, Linux Kernel and OS Interoperability.


What areas of open source cause you the greatest concern? Are there any documents or tools regarding open source that you would like to see in the Knowledge Network?


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Mar 12, 2009 11:36 AM Ronak Mallik Ronak Mallik  says:

I think a lot of the concern here is alleviated when the Lightweight General Public License (LGPL) is used, which doesn't require derivative work to also be open. All JBoss products are written under LGPL.

Mar 17, 2009 5:38 AM allan hardy allan hardy  says:

Hmm actually the dude, Muzilla, doesn't understand GPL - there is no 'give back' requirement at all.  There is a 'reciprocity' requirement, keeping the same license, but I don't have to give my changes to anyone, and if I do I only have to give them to my friends, those I choose.

This is blatant FUD and spoken by those that don't really know of what they speak.

Oh - and 'L' doesn't mean lightweight, I assume you were jesting


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