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|A BSD license is not simply a gift. The question <quote>why should we help our competitors or let them steal our work?</quote> 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 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.|
|Specific Recommendations for using a BSD license|
|The BSD license is preferable for transferring research results in a way that will widely be deployed and most benefit an economy. As such, research funding agencies, such as the NSF, ONR and DARPA, should encourage in the earliest phases of funded research projects, the adoption of BSD style licenses for software, data, results, and open hardware. They should also encourage formation of standards based around implemented Open Source systems and ongoing Open Source projects.|
|Government policy should minimize the costs and difficulties in moving from research to deployment. When possible, grants should require results to be available under a commercialization friendly BSD style license.|
|In many cases, the long-term results of a BSD style license more accurately reflect the goals proclaimed in the research charter of universities than what occurs when results are copyrighted or patented and subject to proprietary university licensing. Anecdotal evidence exists that universities are financially better rewarded in the long run by releasing research results and then appealing to donations from commercially successful alumni.|
|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.|
|Large companies, in which Open Source code is developed, should be aware that programmers appreciate Open Source because it leaves the software available to the employee when they change employers. Some companies encourage this behavior as an employment perk, especially when the software involved is not directly strategic. It is, in effect, a front-loaded retirement benefit with potential lost opportunity costs but no direct costs. Encouraging employees to work for peer acclaim outside the company is a cheap portable benefit a company can sometimes provide with near zero downside.|
|Small companies with software projects vulnerable to orphaning should attempt to use the BSD license when possible. Companies of all sizes should consider forming such Open Source projects when it is to their mutual advantage to maintain the minimal legal and organization overheads associated with a true BSD-style Open Source project.|
|Non-profits should participate in Open Source projects when possible. To minimize software engineering problems, such as mixing code under different licenses, BSD-style licenses should be encouraged. Being leery of the GPL should particularly be the case with non-profits that interact with the developing world. In some locales where application of law becomes a costly exercise, the simplicity of the new BSD license, as compared to the GPL, may be of considerable advantage.|
|In contrast to the GPL, which is designed to prevent the proprietary commercialization of Open Source code, the BSD license places minimal restrictions on future behavior. This allows BSD code to remain Open Source or become integrated into commercial solutions, as a project's or company's needs change. In other words, the BSD license does not become a legal time-bomb at any point in the development process.|
|In addition, since the BSD license does not come with the legal complexity of the GPL or LGPL licenses, it allows developers and companies to spend their time creating and promoting good code rather than worrying if that code violates licensing.|
 Open Source: the Unauthorized White Papers, Donald K. Rosenberg, IDG Books,
2000. Quotes are from page 114, ``Effects of the GNU GPL''.
 In the "What License to Use?" section of
This whitepaper is a condensation of an original work available at
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