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GPL, Copyleft On the Rise 277

paxcoder writes "Contrary to earlier analyses that predicted a decline of copyleft software share to as little as 50% this year, John Sullivan, the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, claims the opposite has happened: In his talk at FOSDEM 2012 titled 'Is Copyleft Being Framed?,' Sullivan presented evidence (PDF) of a consistent increase of usage of copyleft licenses in relation to the usage of permissive licenses in free software projects over the past few years. Using publicly available package information provided by the Debian project, his study showed that the number of packages using the GPL family in that distribution this year reached a share of 93% of all packages with (L)GPLv3 usage rising 400% between the last two Debian versions."
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GPL, Copyleft On the Rise

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:50PM (#39231817)

    "The earlier study looked at a much broader base of projects, not just cherry-picking by limiting itself to packages in a distro."

    Good point. The update in the On the continuing decline of the GPL [] article also mentions this: "UPDATE – It is has been rightfully noted that this decline relates to the proportion of all open source software, while the number of projects using the GPL family has increased in real terms. Using Black Duck’s figures we can calculate that in fact the number of projects using the GPL family of licenses grew 15% between June 2009 and December 2011, from 105,822 to 121,928. However, in the same time period the total number of open source projects grew 31% in real terms, while the number of projects using permissive licenses grew 117%. – UPDATE"

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:08PM (#39231949) Homepage

    Broader? Hogwash. If you dig into the KnowledgeBase figures they list only a little over 13765+984+409=15158 [] GPL family projects. While the Debian stats say:

    The last Debian release, Squeeze, which emerged in February 2011, had 28,126 packages of which 26,271, representing 93 per cent, were under the GPL family.

    So the one saying there is a decline is missing at least 10,000 GPL projects, plus quite possibly more that are not in Debian. Seems to be it's their figures that are incredibly narrow and wrong.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:13PM (#39231995)

    And doesn't Debian actually actively work for make sure the packages it distributes are GPL?

    Not at all. They just tend to make selections of the projects which actually work rather than the hundreds of projects that never go anywhere. The Debian Free Software Guidelines [] mean that main distribution software has to be free, but basically anyone who has motivation and acceptable software can get their package in.

    Simply put, if a package isn't in Debian then it mostly very specialised, quite new or isn't worth touching. If there are several Debian packages and you don't know which to go for, then go for the one which is in Red Hat since that will be the most professionally maintained package.

    The first survey may have been representative of packages which people start developing, but this is more representative of packages which are actually useful.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:57PM (#39232307)

    it restricts you from editing the source code, because you become liable to all sorts of legal responsibilities if you do so.''''

    No it doesn't. You can edit privately and use the software internally in your company and never even have to touch the terms of the GPL. On the other hand, if you never edit the software, but you distribute the software then you normally need to follow the terms of the GPL even if you have never edited it.

    Interestingly enough, some of the largest IT companies, like IBM, Oracle, RedHat, Ubuntu and even Microsoft disagree with you and happily work with and distribute GPL software.

  • Re:The sad part. (Score:3, Informative)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:43PM (#39232699) Journal

    computer code is often easier than its legal counterpart

    Ok, the next time I'm having a deadlock situation with more than 10 threads involved, I'm calling my lawyer.

    I don't think you'll want to wait until a federal court has decided on the ownership of those mutexes. :-)

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