Software licensing, especially when it includes OSS, is complex and cumbersome. It depends on a number of things, your organization being the major one. Depending
on your situation it can become complex enough that you are better off leaving it to the lawyers. And that’s what we do/did.
We are part of an educational institution (MSU), an NSF funded lab, and a DOE funded project. Without getting into details, licensing is not straightforward for
us. GPL was suggested by MSU lawyers.
GPL is not just an ideology.
For more info:
Take a look at the Legal Section
here (their regular webinars are pretty instructive). These are some good places
OSI, SPDX, and
CCO. Bob (Dalesio) has a good presentation on it too.
If you have some flexibility in choosing your license, I would suggest MIT License.
From: Emmanuel Mayssat [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:30 PM
To: EPICS mailing list
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; Shen, Guobao; Vuppala, Vasu
Subject: Discussion about licenses, copyrights, business, and source code
I am currently investigating the Intellectual property landscape of our software.
There are quite a few open source licenses which are being used.
The GPL, the EPICS license, ... the CSS license?
Who comes up with those licenses?
My (limited) understanding is that software developed by the (US) government for the (US) government belongs to everyone (in the US) since it was developed with taxpayers' money. In theory, a private (US?) company could come, take the software, modify it, close
the source, and resell it. Of course, that's not the case with the GPL. My question is therefore how can you impose the GPL if the software belongs to everyone?
It seems that the engineer think of the GPL as the default.
Meaning, "I don't know anything about licensing but because the GPL is a popular, I will use it."
But does anyone understand what the GPL is? It is an ideology.
Here is an email about licensing that was sent recently.
1. Yes, you may customize/remove the line at the bottom.
( "Copyright (c) Facility for Rare Isotope Beam (FRIB), Michigan State University ....)
2. Each source file also has license information (GPL). Here is what you may do with it:
- If you modify a source file, keep the current license info intact, and add your own license info below it.
- if you are adding a new source file, add your license info at the top (no need to copy FRIB license info).
- if you are not making any changes to the source file, leave the license info as-is.
Like a book, Software is 'a creative art form' that can be copyrighted/authored.
Should you be able to take a book, remove the author's name, and potentially put yours on it?
That's exactly what copyrights protect against.
Now about the GPL.
The GPL forces derivative work (add-ons, extensions, or rewrite) to be GPL as well. (not any other license I want and not a GPL + modifications)
Additionally, the GPL FORCES contributors to make the source code of their contribution available for free.
The enforcement is key. The GPL means the author of the original software wants to promote the ideology of forever free open source software.
The GPL is regarded as business unfriendly as it removes FOREVER a major revenue stream.
The LGPLv3 fix that last issue.
With the LGPL, the core software libraries are open-source and free, but additional libraries or high-level applications HAVE THE OPTION of being distributed under another license. CSS and EPICS Qt framework are good candidates for the LGPLv3.
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