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Google Reverses "Absurd" Mozilla Code Ban 201

Posted by kdawson
from the standing-athwart-history-yelling-"eof" dept.
Barence writes "Google has reversed its decision to ban projects created under the Mozilla Public License from being hosted on its Google Code site. Google banned the license in August, claiming it wanted to 'make a statement against open-source license proliferation' which it blamed for hindering the cross-pollination of code from one project to another. Chris DiBona, of Google's open source team, described its decision to ban the MPL as 'absurd,' citing the community's huge popularity." Jamie mentions that the issue was raised from the floor at OSCON at the Google Open Source Update panel, with DiBona on stage.
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Google Reverses "Absurd" Mozilla Code Ban

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  • by jonnythan (79727) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:47AM (#24794663) Homepage

    If there's a million "open source" licenses (which there are), it can become virtually impossible for code to move between projects with different licensing.

    • by somersault (912633) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:54AM (#24794807) Homepage Journal

      To counter this problem, I have created a new type of open source license, that allows my code to be used in any other project, regardless of what license it uses*!

      *Unless of course the resulting product is conceivably going to be used for commercial purposes, or by people with moustaches.

    • by bwcbwc (601780)

      This is true. If you want to ensure license compatibility across your entire codebase, where do you draw the line at supporting (semi-)popular open source licenses?
      GPLv2, GPLv3, LGPL, BSD, Apache, Creative Commons, MIT/X Consortium, Mozilla, Sun Community, and Eclipse are probably the top 10 (not necessarily in ranked order) in terms of number of licensed product copies in use, as opposed to the number of projects using the license. Even within this set, there are incompatibilities.

    • I've had this exact problem with Google. I made some porting for a set of code. My porting used Qt, which is distributed under a different license than the standard one Google uses. Anyway, it took like 6 months for the code to get posted online.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:51AM (#24794741)

    Frankly, given Google's record, I refuse to host any of my projects on Google Code, or to participate in the development of any projects hosted there. I use Sourceforge [sourceforge.net] (has svn and ssh access) and Berlios [berlios.de].

    • Frankly, given Google's record, I refuse to host any of my projects on Google Code, or to participate in the development of any projects hosted there.

      ...Why? What part of Google's record?

      Most of the bad things I hear about Google are privacy-related... what part of your open source project needs to be private?

    • by cbrocious (764766)
      I moved to Assembla ( http://www.assembla.com/ [assembla.com] ) after Google removed the MPL and I haven't looked back. It now hosts all of my projects, open and closed source and I really couldn't be happier with it. Well designed (better than Google code, which is rare) and faster than SF ever was, despite the huge strides they've made lately -- it's definitely better than 5 or 6 years ago where CVS would die twice a week :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by enomar (601942)
      Franky, given Anonymous Coward's record, I refuse to listen to anything he has to say.

      Please, try backing up "given Google's record" with some actual arguments, because not everyone thinks that Google is the devil.
  • Multi-license ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday August 29, 2008 @10:57AM (#24794849) Journal
    The best way to fight against these proliferations is to release code that is multi-licensed. If you are the author of a code and fear OSS fragmentation, claim that you release your code under GPLv2, GPLv3, Mozilla License, Apache License, etc...

    Maybe we should come up with a good acronym for a package of the most popular licenses...
    • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:06AM (#24795001)

      I believe this already exists: public domain.

      • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:12AM (#24795109) Journal
        No, the public domain does not mandate the openness of derivative products. That is what open source is about.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by badboy_tw2002 (524611)

          No, that's what Free Software is about. Public domain is most definately "open source" but depending on who you ask is not Free.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bigstrat2003 (1058574) *
            No, it's not. That's what the GPL (well, others too, but primarily that) are about. The FSF definition (I think we can agree that they're the definitive source here?) doesn't say that derivative works must remain free. It specifies:
            • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
            • Freedom 1: The freedom to study and modify the program.
            • Freedom 2: The freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor.
            • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public,
            • by lubricated (49106)

              Freedom 1 isn't guaranteed.

              Don't talk to people like machines. Numbering starts at 1.

              • It most certainly is. As long as my code is in the public domain, you can take it, modify it, and adapt it to your heart's content. It doesn't say anywhere that the same must extend to derivative works.

                And the numbering is the FSF's, not mine. Don't blame me.

        • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:21AM (#24795287)

          Since when? Whether or not the source is encumbered by copyleft restrictions, it's still opensource.

          I'm sick of GPL zealots, honestly. I choose to release my code completely free. That's permission to do ANYTHING (including making it GPL). But please don't try tell me it's not in the spirit of being open..

          • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:44AM (#24795685)

            That's exactly why the GPL makes my eye twitch. Some of us don't care if our code is used commercially, and if you do, that's fine. Trying to say that you're "more free" and "more open" because you ban that is prima facie stupidity.

            • That's exactly why the GPL makes my eye twitch. Some of us don't care if our code is used commercially, that'fine. Trying to say that you're "more free" and "more open" because you ban that is prima facie stupidity.

              That you think the GPL is about preventing commercial use of code is also prima facie stupidity. Just look at all of the commercial endeavors that are GNU licensed.

              As for how in the world GNU software could be "more free" and "more open" - well both of those terms have multiple meanings, you pick the meaning that applies and it makes sense, you apply an anti-GPL mindset and pick a meaning that doesn't make sense and doh! it doesn't make sense.

              • That you think the GPL is about preventing commercial use of code is also prima facie stupidity. Just look at all of the commercial endeavors that are GNU licensed.

                Very, very few actual commercial applications are GPL licensed--they're either based on support (which is a business model applicable only to a very narrow selection of software) with the applications being free, or they "abuse" the GPL through exposing functionality via web services. But I'm sure you know that. :)

                As for how in the world GNU software could be "more free" and "more open" - well both of those terms have multiple meanings, you pick the meaning that applies and it makes sense, you apply an anti-GPL mindset and pick a meaning that doesn't make sense and doh! it doesn't make sense.

                That's because pro-GPL mindsets don't make sense.

            • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:5, Informative)

              by Vexorian (959249) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:06PM (#24796087)
              However the GPL does not forbid commercial usage of code, and thiking it does and posting about how it does so in web boards is just prima facie lameness .
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by BrainInAJar (584756)
              I agree.

              Personally, I want the code I write to remain free, but the code other people write around it, they can do whatever they want with. I tend to release code under a mozilla/cddl style license with a GPL exception ( though I make sure to leave a strongly worded comment that any code contained MAY NOT be relicensed under the GPL, since GPL people tend to forget that importing doesn't imply relicensing )
              • ( though I make sure to leave a strongly worded comment that any code contained MAY NOT be relicensed under the GPL, since GPL people tend to forget that importing doesn't imply relicensing )

                Is that legally enforceable? If so, could you link me to a licensed piece of code? I'd like to take a look and see how that license would fit me.

                Thanks!

                • Well, it's legally enforceable in so far as you're not legally allowed to change the license anyways. I just put a comment block underneath the license as a reminder so that people don't try it ( like how the Linux people tried to GPL a bunch of openbsd code a while back )
              • by steveha (103154)

                I want the code I write to remain free, but the code other people write around it, they can do whatever they want with.

                Perhaps you should license your code under the GPL with the "Classpath" exception: a specific exception that linking your code with other code does not require releasing the source code for the combined work. Thus, your code cannot be modified and distributed without sharing the modifications, but people are free to incorporate your code into proprietary systems without releasing the propr

        • So what.
          Open Source is not about mandating the openness of the product. Some Open Sources Licenses do but not all. Other licenses are so people do whatever they want with the code except to try to sue someone else who used the same code in their product, or prevent people from doing the same with the master code. The GPL tends to take this and spreads it across generations. But Open Source is a lot larger then GPL.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by AvitarX (172628)

        I'm pretty sure you don't get an explicit waiver of liability with public domain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Timosch (1212482)
        ...which is not legally possible in a lot of countries. In Germany, for instance, you can not license your work under public domain.
        • by quanticle (843097)

          Wait, what? You're saying that, in Germany, I can't set up a public server and hand out tarballs of my code? What're they going to do? Kick down my door and take away my computer because I give away the program I've written?

    • Re:Multi-license ! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:23AM (#24795309)

      I am not sure about a good acronym but Public Domain comes to mind.

      If there is going to be a unified Open Source License that is completely compatible it would have to be public domain where the developer looses all the right to there code and users of the code have no exclusive rights.

      Issues such as credit, openness, goodness, who will use it, who cant, stopping Microsoft from ripping it off, freedom of speach, spreading the code, patents, making money from it, not making money from it..... All these political ideals need to be stripped out.

      Part of the problem with each new version of the GPL more and more political ideals have been added to the license making it more incompatible as time increases. So if you want to make open source code that can be used wherever it needs to be public domain.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905)
        From day one, the GPL was a political document, and at no time has it ever been expressed not to be. The v3 isn't about making it more about politics and making it more restrictive. It is about plugging the loopholes that various entities have found in the wording of the origin document. Like it or hate it, claiming that the GPLs very purpose for being isn't political is just fooling yourself.
        • Hence why I stated MORE political. Loopholes arn't always a bad thing. Those loopholes are partially what allowed it to spread and get some corporate support. It is better to get 1,000,000 people to be mostly good then having 1,000 who are truly good and the rest evil.

    • The Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License [zoy.org] (WTFPL) is a free software license.

      DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
      Version 2, December 2004

      Copyright (C) 2004 Sam Hocevar
      14 rue de Plaisance, 75014 Paris, France
      Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim or modified
      copies of this license document, and changing it is allowed as long
      as the name is changed.

      DO WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT TO PUBLIC LICENSE
      TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYIN

  • by Nymz (905908) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:03AM (#24794953) Journal
    If open source code, is bound by a proprietary license, then it should be called proprietary open source, or POS for short.
  • What exactly the difference between the MPL and the GPL is? Or the EPL(which is mentioned in TFA)? Because to my non legalese mind they look pretty much the same. They seem to require source upon request, list the places the license needs to be placed in the binaries,etc. I'm afraid I have to go with Google on this one. There are a whole bunch of open source licenses out there and the last thing anybody wants is for open source to become a giant legal minefield,as that just gives more ammo to the FUD that M
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcnazar (1231382)

      The MPL is a soft copyleft whilst the GPL is a hard copyleft. infact s hard as them come

      In simplest terms:

      MPL: suitable for OSS libraries or components that can be compiled into and used in applications, without inheriting the MPL license.

      GPL is like herpes. An example: if you use a GPL library with one line of code (LOC) in it and compile it into your one billion LOC application then your bigger application gets the GPL herpes virus and will then have to be released as GPL (if and when you choose to releas

    • by Gewalt (1200451)
      EPL is a region of the Eastern Kingdoms, and is well known for the small town of Light's Hope Chapel.
    • IIRC Mozilla uses a dual license. For the original author, it allows use of all user supplied modifications in a closed source program (i.e. Netscape). For everyone, it can also be used as copyleft.

      MySQL also uses similar dual-licensing. Something like the MPL makes sense for certain business models.

    • by jaaron (551839) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:21PM (#24796373) Homepage

      The MPL and the GPL are very different. The MPL is closer to the LGPL and the EPL than it is to the GPL

      One of the easiest ways to think of it was give by Dave Johnson [rollerweblogger.org] back in 2006. You can place most open source licenses into one of three categories:

      • Gimme Credit: this includes the Apache, BSD and MIT licenses. Basically, you can do anything you want with the code, but you must give the original authors credit in some way.
      • Gimme Fixes: is used by the EPL, MPL, and LGPL. Basically, the original code will always be open source and any direct changes of the original code (patches, bug fixes, enhancements) must also be released as open source. However, you can combine this software with closed code to create a proprietary work. This license tends to be used by frameworks and libraries. Sometimes the original author gets special rights (like the NPL).
      • Gimme everything!: the GPL stands alone in it's requirement that the code itself and all derivative works be free software.

      Hope that helps.

  • By banning MPL and then reversing the ban once the discussion heated up, Google has "made a statement".

    What would help is for some OSS lawyer to come up with a simplified menu of licenses something like Creative Commons. You do need at least BSD and GPL, but I agree there are way too many licenses. We non-legal geeks just want simple choices like "share alike" (GPL), "attribution" (BSD), "non commercial" (like M$ "open" licenses - not in the open source spirit but ok when used sparingly).

  • Proposed solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:29AM (#24795421)

    Here's a possible solution to the license proliferation / cross pollination problem of F/OSS software projects: Each open source compliant license could include within its terms specific permission to use portions of its project's code in software licensed under another open source compliant license. It could be called an Open Source Cross-Pollination Clause or something like that, and the wording would be identical across licenses. It would be a sort of "UCC of software licenses." As an example of what might happen if this clause were included in, say, the Apache license, the Mozilla license, and the Eclipse license: Suppose there are a group of functions in Apache that produce some result that might be useful in a web browser. The Mozilla project could copy that code verbatim, insert it into Mozilla, and perhaps make modifications to it later on. The copy of that portion of code would essentially become licensed under the Mozilla license. The Eclipse project could then find that code useful and copy it into Eclipse, perhaps modifying it further. Now there are three copies of that code, each licensed under the same license as the broader code that contains it. If, say, all OSI approved licenses decided to insert this Cross-Pollination Clause, it would completely solve the problems of license compatibility.

  • As the proud owner of my own Google Code project, I can attest to the need for freedom and avoidance of any restrictions of any kind in Google Code. Are they looking to be an incubator of great new ideas? They let the mad scientists play! With the sad killing off of the GooglePages phenomenon, we're all sad to see the great benefactor turn Corporate on us. Please Google, stop crapping on your brand. Come back from the Dark Side.

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