I have had the honour of informally judging a debate entitled "Which Open Source License is Best?", held this past Monday by the FOSS Learning Center. Unfortunately I could not watch the debate live, so I've had to wait for the videos to be processed and posted - my apologies for the delay.
Each debater made an excellent case for the license they represented:
Michael Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation - Eclipse Public License (EPL)
Matt Asay, VP Business Development, Alfresco - GNU General Public License (GPL)
David Maxwell, Open Source Strategist, Coverity - Berkeley Software Distibution License (BSD)
I come to this debate not only as an professor, but as a software developer, a consultant to the SME sector, and as a participant in the Fedora project. There was at least one point made in favor of each license that I found notable: that the EPL guarantees perpetual freedom of code, but enables proprietary products to be constructed on top; that the GPL fundamentally creates an atmosphere of trust; and that the BSD license's brevity and simplicity provides reassuring clarity and confidence.
Of the three cases presented, I found the case for the GPL to be the most compelling. I hadn't previously considered that the GPL creates an environment of trust, but that resonated deeply with my experience and particularly with my observations within the Fedora project and as a consultant.
But more importantly, as the debaters concluded: each of these licenses has a place in the Open Source ecosystem, and the users of each license generally agree about much more than they disagree. Long live Open Source!
These are my first two books: X Power Tools, a thorough guide to the X Window System (O'Reilly, ISBN 9780596101954) and Fedora Linux: A Complete Guide to Red Hat's Community Distro, a practical hands-on book on Fedora (O'Reilly, ISBN 9780596526825).
Fedora Linux is also available for online reading through Safari and in downloadable PDF format from oreilly.com