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Oregon and On and On

Posted by Michael Harvey on August 3, 2007, 8:50 AM EDT
Michael H. photo

The waves from this week's OSCON in Portland, Oregon, are still rippling through the open source community. As you would expect from an O'Reilly event, there was plenty of debate at the conference, not least about 'badgeware' licenses.

Ross Mayfield, the CEO of SocialText, announced at OSCON that the OSI had approved SocialText's attribution-style license. This so-called 'badgeware' license is called the Common Public Attribution License (CPAL) and is based on the Mozilla Public License (MPL) with some significant modifications in the areas of developer attribution and delivery of the software as a service on a network.

I think this announcement will spark two stampedes: first, a number of vendors will rush to adopt SocialText's license and thereby gain OSI approval. But there will be plenty fleeing in the other direction too. I expect to see some OSI members dissociate themselves from the OSI, which has historically expressed a strong defense of its own strict definition of open source and a strong distaste for 'badgeware' licenses.

At Centric CRM, we're following nobody. We won't join the rush to the CPAL. Our recent announcement of new products, based on licenses which satisfy the needs of our users and communities, demonstrates we are very much open to different licensing approaches—some certified by the OSI, some not—that serve the interests of our customers and our business.

Software must be built in whatever way suits the users and companies that are going to build their businesses on it. It remains the responsibility of vendors to be clear about their intentions. But, as the debate around badgeware shows, there's no such thing as a 'one size fits all' license for software. You can't please all the people all the time. The important thing is to focus on the customer.

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