Software Licenses

by Phil Hughes

I have been a subscriber to Crynwr Software's Free Software Business mailing list for years. It is an open discussion forum for people in the free-software business. Other well-known members include Bob Young, Brian Behlendorf and Tim O'Reilly.

A discussion is still currently going on, which inspired this post to our news site. The title is Licenses vs. public domain. You will see the typical GPL vs. BSD license issue being discussed, although Brian Behlendorf posted something I hadn't previously thought about. His point, using Apache as an example which is under the BSD license, is the fact that the license, while allowing a proprietary fork in the code, does not allow the use of the Apache name.

For something new to the market, this probably doesn't matter. But, once your product is established, the name becomes very important. Having a web server that works like Apache is much less important than having a web server you can call Apache in today's market.

A second interesting issue that was raised in this same discussion is how the licensing of Perl made it possible for Perl (and Python) support to be added to the Microsoft Visual suite. Before you panic, this is not MS-Perl; it is a development environment.

Rather than re-hash the discussion, check out the archive. You can read it and even join the FSB list by visiting If you are interested in open licensing issues, it is well worth reading.

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