HP Calls For Sun and IBM to Remove OSS Licenses

You have to love it when one large company calls for two other competing companies to do something. In this case Martin Fink calls for Sun and IBM to depreciate the CDDL and CPL, respectively. First, having just attended the OSI BOF at OSCON, I am acutely aware of the problem with license proliferation. Beyond being aware of it, I agree that it really is a problem and have even offered LQ's help to the OSI in helping with the problem. That being said, this is just a pot shot and was clearly posturing. Considering one of the main mantra's of the OSS community is that choice is good, it seems odd to try and force everyone to use the GPL. The GPL is a good license for some cases, but it's not for everyone. It's not multiple licenses that are bad, it's the proliferation of needless licenses that is bad. Remember that for instance the CDDL is mostly Mozilla's MPL, with a few changes that Sun felt were necessary. In fact, the CDDL announcement clearly states:

We have carefully reviewed the existing OSI approved licenses and found none of them to meet our needs, and thus have reluctantly drafted a new open source license based on the Mozilla Public License, version 1.1 (“MPL”). We do appreciate the issue of license proliferation, however, and have worked hard to make the Common Development and Distribution License (“CDDL”) as reusable as possible. Additionally, we have attempted to address the problems we perceived in existing open source licenses that led us to conclude that reusing those existing licenses was impractical.

Also, I don't know if it was Martin or the journalist who said “In contrast, an open-source license, like IBM's, is copyrighted”. This insinuates that the GPL is not copyrighted, which is obviously incorrect. The bottom line is, use the right tool for the job and then license that tool under the right Open Source license. Yes, it's a shame that all code is not compatible. The driving reason behind why people open source code is different though. Don't forget that neither of the two products that are quickly becoming the backbone of the web, Firefox and Apache, are GPL'd. Perhaps the biggest irony here is that IBM and Sun have both done significantly more for the Open Source community than HP has (not to detract from the legitimate contributions HP has made, but let's get some perspective here). He did get the crowd to clap though, and to some I guess that's all that matter.
–jeremy
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