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GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast 808

itwbennett writes "Use of the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL set of licenses is declining at an accelerating rate, according to new analysis by the 451 Group's Matthew Aslett. In fact, the 451 Group projects that GPL usage will hit 50% by September 2012. Instead, developers are licensing projects under permissive licenses such as the MIT, Apache (ASL), BSD, and Ms-PL. The shift started in 2007 and has been gathering momentum ever since. Blogger Brian Proffitt posits that 'the creation of the GPLv3 and the sometimes contentious discussion that led up to it' may be partly responsible for the move away from the GPL."
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GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

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  • by cultiv8 ( 1660093 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @02:48PM (#38409842) Homepage

    the creation of the GPLv3 and the sometimes contentious discussion that led up to it' may be partly responsible for the move away from the GPL.

    I'm in business to make money. I also love OSS and have spent literally hundreds of hours personally contributing back in many different ways. The problem with GPLv3 is that I can't use it in an application I develop unless I release any changes/mods I make to the source code.

    That's my secret sauce. If I'm a startup and trying to form a niche in an industry, why would I want to give my recipe away?

  • I need to make a living and am currently doing that by writing iPhone apps. GPL is fine in an idealistic world, however people are not idealistic and do not give you money for being a nice guy. When I release software as open source (, I do it to be helpful to others. The GPL greatly restricts the ability of some one to use my software. Just because one developer uses my library in a proprietary application does not exclude another developer for using my library as well. What is the point of software being called open source when it is not usable by developers?
  • MS-PL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markkezner ( 1209776 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:05PM (#38410052)

    I see that the Microsoft Public License is grouped in with the other permissive ones like Apache and BSD. Honest question though, is the MS-PL actually a popular choice for non-Microsoft projects? I've never really seen it much, and my intuition says that a decent set of open source devs would be allergic to a Microsoft license.

  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @03:17PM (#38410144)

    And even that is not wholly correct. Perhaps this works best:

    I can profit while using GPL software. I simply cannot close the source code as a means of forcing my customers into a dependency on me. Which is why the GPL was created in the first place.

  • by InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:00PM (#38410562)

    No, it's like saying you have freedom of speech, and if you want to use it you must also let other have freedom of speech.

    It's a good analogy, because when you have true freedom of speech, you are actually allowed to say that there should not be freedom of speech. If you wouldn't be allowed to say that, then there would be no freedom of speech after all. That perfectly shows that freedom of speech doesn't limit what you can say based on what others think about it, while GPL does.

  • Re:Don't be stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:22PM (#38410784) Journal

    First, your statement that "they are getting around the GPL requirements" is factually false. There is no "law" requiring anyone to be a mind reader, and somehow divine "intent" - and in the case of licenses such as the GPL (and other "contracts of adhesion"), any and all "grey areas" are to be interpreted strictly to the benefit of the recipient, and set up against the grantor.

    Second, the GPL clearly states that it's okay to profit from GPL'd code - and makes NO additional restrictions about it when you do so, so that case is also covered.

    Third, the FSF has, by their head (Stallman) publicly claiming that it's okay to violate copyright on closed source, put themselves in the position where anyone who chooses to vigorously litigate against the enforcement of any copyrights assigned to the FSF or the gnu project, or to demand that code they previously assigned be returned, has a good chance of winning.

    The GPL won't be around within a decade or two ... the more permissive licenses, such as the bsd and mit, will be, because they better address the real world. 2011 was the year that a LOT of us woke up, smelled the coffee, and realized that the GPL is an evolutionary dead end. Thanks to the GPL, there will never be a "year of the linux desktop", because there's no economic incentive. Just look at Apple - the company with the most worth in the whole world - selling software that was built upon FreeBSD.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:27PM (#38410832)

    So tell me, o mighty spouter of clichés, what the fuck your statement has it to do with the question at hand?

    If you can't immediately see the answer to that question, then you could always look up the old legal concept properly and educate yourself. Here, let me Google that for you []. Perhaps next time, you'll have the courtesy to do so before you resort to knee-jerk ad hominem attacks.

    The point of the original legal idea was that if you start enumerating specific counter-examples then you are creating a presumption that the general case holds. In this context, while obviously we're talking about economics rather than law, the same basic idea makes sense: any time someone asks about commercial viability of GPL'd software, the same tiny number of companies that make money based around such software get trotted out as counter-examples. (Don't agree? Try Google again, this time to see how many other examples you can find by searching the history of Slashdot. It won't take you long.) Given that it is easy to cite numerous companies that make money via other means, this suggests that perhaps making money from GPL'd software really is relatively difficult, thus backing up the comment by InsightIn140Bytes above.

  • by InsightIn140Bytes ( 2522112 ) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @04:36PM (#38410922)
    So what are you exactly against? People using your code and improving it without giving anything back? Because that is what Google is doing. Why are you exactly against distributing modified code without source, but not against locking in that code in their own datacenters and never giving anything back? Because the end result is the same - they use the code without contributing back. In fact it's even worser, because it also locks users to their services.

    I have a good example of this. I've been using Cryptoheaven [] as my email provider for several years. They open source their client, but not their server side code. This means you cannot actually use the code without also using them, and I've been locked to paying them because I was stupid enough to use their domains for emails while registering to all kinds of services.
  • I think the purpose of the GPL is to ensure that those that profit from your work also give back.

    Its purpose is economic warfare [] against all non-copyleft software, with the ultimate goal of world domination [] (eliminating non-free software).

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.