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Re: Licensing

From: Chris Travers <chris(at)travelamericas(dot)com>
To: Josh Berkus <josh(at)agliodbs(dot)com>,PostgreSQL advocacy <pgsql-advocacy(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: Licensing
Date: 2005-03-21 20:38:23
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Lists: pgsql-advocacy
Josh Berkus wrote:

>>My angle is just the opposite, what if I want to release code under an
>>open source license, but allow commercial entities the freedom to
>>provide add-ons under whatever license they choose?
>I actually talk to companies about licensing proprietary code as OSS 
>frequently (though I refer them to Larry Rosen, John Koenig and Gwyn Murray 
>as well, since IANAL).  Which license you use is really dependant on what you 
>expect to get out of open-sourcing your code.
>(1) You have an application or software plug-in that you want to make the 
>de-facto standard in some niche, so you need it to have the widest possible 
>distribution.  Or, you're open-sourcing it mainly to make your competitor's 
>offerings unprofitable.  You do not expect to make any money off the code 
>itself but off of complimentary offerings.
Break the above case into two ones:

1)  You have an application you want to be a de-facto standard, or the 
basis for a de-facto standard.  BSD license is best.
2)  You want to undercut competitor's offerings.  The choice of license 
requires more information.  FreeBSD did not make Solaris unprofitable, 
and instead subsidized its development, for example.  On the other hand 
the GPL has allowed Linux to more effectively undercut Solaris than 
FreeBSD ever did.  On the other hand, the BSD license works well in the 
case where your competitors cannot easily take your code and use it to 
subsidize their operations.  FWIW, I think that as Linux kills 
proprietary UNIX, that BSD's market share will dramatically increase.

But this last point is somewhat weaker than it may appear.  BSD licensed 
projects are competitive based on the size of their user/developer 
community.  At a certain point, commercial development cannot keep up 
with open sourced projects under any license and there is a strong 
incentive to donate back to strong projects.

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers
Metatron Technology Consulting

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