Which GPL Will Be At The Bottom Of The Incline?

Do we need language against software patents in order to feel that the playing field is level? Is a license which prohibits such patents explicitly more fair than one which does not?

Let's talk some more about the open source incline. (The picture is from a political site, but I find it funny.)

The other day I noted how SugarCRM is now talking about licensing code under the GPL, rather than the modified Mozilla attribution license it has been using.

It is doing this, I wrote, for business reasons. It wants a bigger community, more contributions of code, and a better reputation in the open source world.

With Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman now split on GPL Version 3, specifically over the issue of software patents, the question now occurs, what's the bottom of the incline? Is it GPL Version 2, or is it GPL Version 3?

This is not a question either Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman can answer. It's not a question that truly responds well to a poll (although we'll have one). This is a market question, one that will be decided over time, by millions of decisions made all around the world.

It's the vibrancy of the communities built around Version 2 and Version 3 projects, and the level of code contributions such communities generate, that will tell the tale here. People are more likely to contribute code when they sense it's a two-way street, that the playing field between them and the project they support is level.

Do we need language against software patents in order to feel that the playing field is level? Is a license which prohibits such patents explicitly more fair than one which does not?

This is a political question, but not all political questions are subject to a vote. Some are subject to history. And the history on this question has only just begun, unless the software industry chooses to admit that software patents are more trouble than they are worth.

I'm not holding my breath on that. (You may exhale now.)

[poll id=35]

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