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"This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into proprietary programs."<<one>>
"This type of license is ideal for promoting the use of a reference body of code that implements a protocol for common service. This is another reason why we choose it for the Apache group - many of us wanted to see HTTP survive and become a true multiparty standard, and would not have minded in the slightest if Microsoft or Netscape choose to incorporate our HTTP engine or any other component of our code into their products, if it helped further the goal of keeping HTTP common... All this means that, strategically speaking, the project needs to maintain sufficient momentum, and that participants realize greater value by contributing their code to the project, even code that would have had value if kept proprietary."
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A BSD license gives a small company the equivalent of software-in-escrow without any legal complications or costs. If a BSD-licensed program becomes orphaned, a company can simply take over, in a proprietary manner, the program on which they are dependent. An even better situation occurs when a BSD code-base is maintained by a small informal consortium, since the development process is not dependent on the survival of a single company or product line. The survivability of the development team when they are mentally in the zone is much more important than simple physical availability of the source code.
A BSD license is not simply a gift. The question "why should we help our competitors or let them steal our work?" comes up often in relation to a BSD license. Under a BSD license, if one company came to dominate a product niche that others considered strategic, the other companies can, with minimal effort, form a mini-consortium aimed at reestablishing parity by contributing to a competitive BSD variant that increases market competition and fairness. This permits each company to believe that it will be able to profit from some advantage it can provide, while also contributing to economic flexibility and efficiency. The more rapidly and easily the cooperating members can do this, the more successful they will be. A BSD license is essentially a minimally complicated license that enables such behavior.
A BSD style license is a good choice for long duration research or other projects that need a development environment that:
A common reason to use the GPL is when modifying or extending the gcc compiler. This is particularly apt when working with one-off specialty CPUs in environments where all software costs are likely to be considered overhead, with minimal expectations that others will use the resulting compiler.
A key effect of the GPL, making a complete and competitive Open Source system widely available at cost of media, is a reasonable goal. A BSD style license, in conjunction with ad-hoc-consortiums of individuals, can achieve this goal without destroying the economic assumptions built around the deployment-end of the technology transfer pipeline.
A lengthy series of articles published slightly later in Dr. Dobbs magazine described a BSD-derived 386 PC version of Unix, with BSD-licensed replacement files for the 6 missing 4.4 lite files. This system, named 386BSD, was due to ex-UCB programmer William Jolitz. It became the original basis of all the PC BSDs in use today. Une longue série d'articles publiés un peu plus tard dans Dr. Dobbs magazine décrivait une version d'Unix pour PC 386 dérivée de BSD où les 6 fichiers manquant de 4.4-lite avaient été remplacés par du code sous licence BSD. Ce système, appelé 386BSD, était dû à l'ex-développeur de UCB William Jolitz. Il devint la base originale de tous les PC BSD en utilisation aujourd'hui.
A less publicized and unintended use of the GPL is that it is very favorable to large companies that want to undercut software companies. In other words, the GPL is well suited for use as a marketing weapon, potentially reducing overall economic benefit and contributing to monopolistic behavior.
AT&T, who owned the original Unix implementation, was a publicly regulated monopoly tied up in anti-trust court; it was legally unable to sell a product into the software market. It was, however, able to provide it to academic institutions for the price of media. AT&amp;T, propriétaire de l'implémentation originale d'Unix, était un monopole réglementé par l’État examiné par un tribunal anti-trust ; il était juridiquement incapable de vendre un produit sur le marché du logiciel. Il était cependant autorisé à le fournir à des institutions universitaires au prix du support.
BSD Advantages
Bibliographical References
Companies have long recognized that the creation of de facto standards is a key marketing technique. The BSD license serves this role well, if a company really has a unique advantage in evolving the system. The license is legally attractive to the widest audience while the company's expertise ensures their control. There are times when the GPL may be the appropriate vehicle for an attempt to create such a standard, especially when attempting to undermine or co-opt others. The GPL, however, penalizes the evolution of that standard, because it promotes a suite rather than a commercially applicable standard. Use of such a suite constantly raises commercialization and legal issues. It may not be possible to mix standards when some are under the GPL and others are not. A true technical standard should not mandate exclusion of other standards for non-technical reasons.
Companies interested in promoting an evolving standard, which can become the core of other companies' commercial products, should be wary of the GPL. Regardless of the license used, the resulting software will usually devolve to whoever actually makes the majority of the engineering changes and most understands the state of the system. The GPL simply adds more legal friction to the result.
Conclusion
Developers tend to find the BSD license attractive as it keeps legal issues out of the way and lets them do whatever they want with the code. In contrast, those who expect primarily to use a system rather than program it, or expect others to evolve the code, or who do not expect to make a living from their work associated with the system (such as government employees), find the GPL attractive, because it forces code developed by others to be given to them and keeps their employer from retaining copyright and thus potentially "burying" or orphaning the software. If you want to force your competitors to help you, the GPL is attractive.
Do not confuse the new BSD license with "public domain". While an item in the public domain is also free for all to use, it has no owner.
Due in part to its complexity, in many parts of the world today the legalities of the GPL are being ignored in regard to Linux and related software. The long-term ramifications of this are unclear.
For those who must work with statically-linked implementations of multiple software standards, the GPL is often a poor license, because it precludes using proprietary implementations of the standards. The GPL thus minimizes the number of programs that can be built using a GPLed standard. The GPL was intended to not provide a mechanism to develop a standard on which one engineers proprietary products. (This does not apply to Linux applications because they do not statically link, rather they use a trap-based API.)