Have GPL issues been overtaken by events?

Eben Moglen, Hewlett-Packard, have been debating merits and demerits of the latest draft of the General Public License (GPL), which governs innumerable open-source projects.

But Tim O'Reilly, chief executive of publisher O'Reilly and Associates and a longtime open-source software supporter, believes they're debating yesterday's issues.

In his blog Tuesday, O'Reilly argued that interactive Internet services are where much programming and software activity takes place.

"Because (open-source licenses') conditions are all triggered by the act of software distribution, they fail to apply to many of the most important types of software today, namely Web 2.0 applications and other forms of software as a service." O'Reilly said. "What we need is a new 'open services definition."

The GPL's reciprocity requirements--you may change the source code, but if you distribute the new version you have to share the changes--don't apply when modified projects are being hosted on the Web as a service rather that distributed to other programmers.

Tech Culture
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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