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Open Source Initiative sets out plan to curb proliferation of open source licenses

Tash Shifrin

The Open Source Initiative has published a draft plan aimed at reducing the proliferation of different open source licences.

The OSI’s proliferation committee said the aim of its proposals was to help the open source community determine which licences are useful in which circumstances.

But it rejected the option of recommending that everyone use the widely adopted general public licence (GPL), saying this was unrealistic. The rejection comes just weeks after the second discussion draft of the GPL’s version 3 was published by the Free Software Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center.

Instead, the committee is proposing to group licences together under five descriptive headings – licenses that are popular and widely used or with strong communities, special purpose licences, licences that are redundant with more popular licences, non-reusable licences and other/miscellaneous licences.

The committee’s draft report says, “We realise that the majority of open source projects currently use the GPL and that the GPL does not always play well with other licences. We also realise that the GPL is a great licence choice for some people and not so great a licence choice for others.

“Thus, we can't just recommend that everybody use the GPL. While such a recommendation would solve the licence proliferation problem, it is not realistic.”


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