Mozilla license becoming Apache-compatible

Summary:The most important result may be to make it easy for Google Code contributions to move into the browser. Google is a big supporter of the Apache license.

The Mozilla Foundation will re-write its Mozilla Public License to make it more compatible with Apache and more globally acceptable.

Mozilla is best known for its Firefox browser. (Picture from Wikimedia.)

Call it one small step by a licensor, one giant leap against license proliferation.

The most important result may be to make it easy for Google Code contributions to move into the browser. Google is a big supporter of the Apache license.

The Black Duck Knowledge Center currently lists Mozilla as the 10th most popular open source license with 1.22% of the market. Apache is 7th with 4.01%. The three main GPL licenses -- GPL V.2, LGPL, and GPL V. 3 -- together represent more than 60% of the license market.

Apache has momentum, however. Matt Asay called it better for open source businesses last year -- he's now COO of Ubuntu, which uses the GPL. Bruce Perens has written that only three licenses are really necessary -- a "gift" license, a "sharing with rules" license, and a hybrid between the two.

Most open source license proliferation involves the rules under which sharing takes place. The OSI's License Proliferation Committee says there are dozens of OSI-approved licenses out there but only nine (including Apache and Mozilla) have what it calls "strong communities" around them.

License proliferation is a big issue among big companies, since some licenses have terms that contradict one another, forcing corporate projects to be built with multi-license distributions that can be confusing.

Version 1.0 of the Mozilla Public License was written by Mitchell Baker when she was a lawyer for Netscape. The current version, 1.1, was written by the Mozilla Foundation and is a hybrid of BSD and GPL terms.

The new license, Mozilla Public License V.2, is expected to be out by the end of the year.

Topics: Open Source, Browser

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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