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SpringSource’s GPL move highlights commercial concernsMatthew Aslett, May 2, 2008 @ 9:39 am ET
Given the previous discussion on this blog and elsewhere about the commercial benefits of the GPL versus more permissive open source licenses it is fascinating (if you’re in to that sort of thing) to see that SpringSource has chosen the GPLv3 for its new Application Platform.
Due for release in June the SpringSource Application Platform combines the Spring Framework, Apache Tomcat, Eclipse Equinox and other OSGi-based technologies with the new SpringSource Dynamic Module Kernel backbone. All of these are available under Apache or Eclipse, however, the SpringSource Application Project itself will be under the GPLv3.
As Rod Johnson explains, the choice of license is very much designed to protect the commercial interests of SpringSource:
“Creating an application platform that makes the benefits of OSGi available to end users was a huge investment for us. There’s a lot of technical innovation under the hood which won’t be immediately apparent but which enables us to make a generational leap. If we’re giving that technology away in open source, we wanted others who build on it to also give away the results in open source.”
TheServerSide discussion shows that not everyone is happy with the company’s decision to go GPL and it is interesting to see the company using the GPL to restrict the commercial opportunities for potential rivals (although at least the code is still open source, it could after all have changed it to a proprietary license). Marc Fleury, meanwhile, describes it as “the same thing you had yesterday for free, except it is now under the GPL and a proprietary subscription license.”
To clarify, the Spring Framework itself remains under the ASL 2.0, and it is also worth noting that the change SpringSource has made (like it or not) is only possible thanks to the GPLv3′s compatibility with the Apache license (although the Eclipse Equinox tools are another matter).
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