Today there is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about what uses of GPL’d software might compel a company to open source their software. Having run into this issue at Disney, Sony and several startups, this article is meant to clarify my own understanding as well as hopefully help a few others make informed decisions. Please note that I am not a lawyer and this article must not be relied upon as a substitute for reading the GPL and obtaining specific legal advice from a licensed attorney.
While there are many less restrictive licenses (MIT, BSD, MPL, etc.) the GPL is perhaps the least understood and most feared by business. To an extent this confusion shouldn’t be a surprise. The FOSS ( Free and Open Source Software ) movement is made up of an array of activists that have slightly different ideals. Since to an extent law relies heavily on intent and consistent treatment, the inconsistencies in this approach muddy the waters. When over time the leaders of the movement make contradictory statements regarding the scope and intent to the GPL, this injects Fear Uncertainly and Doubt (FUD).
Continue reading Sleeping with the GPL