November 20, 2006

I talked to a friend of mine on Saturday about the open sourcing of java. He was a bit disappointed that it was not BSD licensed instead of GPL’d. He and I have had this discussion before. He seems to think BSD is ‘more free’ than the GPL. I realized this time, though, in talking to him that I’m not all that interested in the freedom aspects of the GPL. I’m more interested in the sustainability of the GPL. It seems to me that with BSD licensed code you end up with the potential for all the interested parties to run off behind their respective Intellectual property barriers and never be heard from again. Whereas with GPL’d code there’s a better chance the code they develop will come back out if they decide to sell the binaries to a customer.

I think of the GPL like seed saving. You grow something and at the end of the season you make sure to preserve some of the seeds from your plants so you can grow more things for the next season. The BSD license seems to lose out there. It reminds me of those plants from ADM or Montsantos(sp?) that are incapable of being used to grow any other of themselves.

So, just like with plants it is a good idea to back the ideas that are the most sustainable.


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