GPL or not?

I'm in favor of open source software, but should I use a GPL license or some less restrictive one such as MIT or BSD?

I think it is an executive mistake to treat software as a product and restrict its sharing, modification or distribution. Especially now when public opinion is swaying to support open source software although it's been doing that for decades.

GPL originated as Richard Stallman's response to James Gosling selling his source code rights to UniPress. UniPress started charging cash for emacs and forced Stallman to stop distributing Gosling's source code. There are variations of this story, but should we look at what happened with UniPress?

These days UniPress is a small note in Wikipedia. It was sold to Numara Software in 2002, that was then acquired by BMC Software. Both acquisitions were with undisclosed price. It seems that BMC does not have any use for Gosling Emacs now.

How about the TiVo corporation that attempted to tivoize linux and in response GPLv3 was deployed? It went through double-acquisition as well and the stuff is called Xperi now.

Now we're talking about million or billion dollar acquisitions here. People who did the decisions here likely ended up just fine. However people purchasing this stuff didn't do so well. Whatever service they got has been trashed and nobody can take over from there. You can't buy Gosling Emacs anymore. Further, the consumer electronics from 2000-2015 in general are more likely than not to end up being e-waste bricks long before they're technically unusable.

On to the license

GPL license family has been designed into an environment that is openly hostile for any efforts to open source software. It's a license you want to reach for when somebody is really screwing over you.

There's a real danger that software companies exploit people and communities. However we cannot technically limit this. I doubt that AGPLv3 covers every potential method of exploitation you can come up with. It's better that communities just recognize exploitation attempts and produce plans to overcome these exploits. It can be as simple as expressing you disapprove something without insulting, and tell why you do so.

BSD license may be better choice for new projects because it implies you trust the users, it is openly inviting to everybody and place no constraints on collaboration.

Why do you think that people are suddenly more open and welcoming of open source? That's because the concept is more familiar to them and the idea has spread.

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