Developers hot or cold on GPLv3?

GPLv3 is either manna from heaven or fire and brimstone, depending on the survey you read.

The numbers had been showing a steady clip supporting GPLv3. So, hot, right? But Evans Data ran a survey of developers showing that support for GPLv3 is actually cold. So, which is it?

Probably both.

From the Evans Data survey:

Only 6 percent of developers working on Open Source software have adopted GPLv3, according to Evans Data Corp's recently released Open Source Software Development Survey. Two-thirds say they will not be adopting GPLv3 anytime in the next year, and 43 percent say they will never implement the new license. In addition, almost twice as many would be less likely to join a project that implements GPLv3 than would be more likely to join.

"GPLv3 is controversial because it imposes restrictions on what you can do with programs implemented under this license," said John Andrews, President and CEO of Evans Data Corp. "Developers are confused and divided about those restrictions, with fairly equal numbers agreeing with the restrictions, disagreeing with them, or thinking they will be unenforceable."

This data flies in the face of the actual numbers of projects that have adopted GPLv3. If you tally the total number of real projects that have adopted GPLv3, it's actually quite high. And if you take into account those developers who have licensed their software under "GPLv2 or later" (showing no predilection to disfavor v3, contrary to Evans Data's findings), the number of real projects "adopting" GPLv3 is actually higher than 50 percent .

So, why the disparity?

I think it stems from Evans Data measuring developers while Palamida's license analysis measures projects. The projects seem comfortable with GPLv3, while the developers may not be so favorable toward it.

I'm personally not a big proponent of GPLv3. It's fine, but it failed to do some things it should have (like navigate the ASP loophole). As a result, it does some things I like (addresses patents) but gets into territory that I feel is overreaching (DRM). This doesn't make it a bad license, but it does mean that if Evans Data were to ask me, I probably wouldn't be jumping out of my seat to adopt it, either.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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