Intel to stop using open-source license

The chipmaker says it will discontinue an open-source license used to govern some of its software.

Ingrid Marson
2 min read
Intel on Thursday said that it will discontinue an open-source license used to govern some of its software.

The chipmaker said it has told the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to remove its open-source license from future use as an approved OSI license. The OSI is a nonprofit agency that promotes the use of open-source software and maintains a listing of open-source licenses on its Web site.

McCoy Smith, an Intel attorney, raised the issue on an OSI mailing list earlier this week. He said that Intel would like to "remove from future use" the Intel Open Source License, to reduce license proliferation.

Intel's open-source license governs the use of security software that the company has defined.

The issue of license proliferation has caused concern among some in the open-source community as it can increase the cost for companies wishing to adopt open-source software, as they need to review and manage each type of license.

Intel decided to get rid of its license after finding that it had not been used within the company for several years and is not often used outside Intel, according to an Intel spokesman. Smith said that it does not want the "deapproval" of the license to be retroactive to past uses, as it does not want to force companies to relicense code.

Intel's decision was praised by Martin Fink, the vice president of HP's Linux division, who recently told ZDNet UK that the number of open-source licenses needs to be reduced from the current figure of more than 50 to "something less than 10."

"I offer my sincere thanks to Intel Corp for this move," said Fink in a posting to the mailing list. "This is an awesome piece of leadership and I congratulate you for it. This is a great move."

Laura Majerus, the director of legal affairs at the OSI, which has been looking into ways of cutting down the number of open-source licenses, said that Intel's move was a positive one. "I agree that this is a great example of leadership," said Majerus.

Majerus admitted that the OSI does not currently have a mechanism to prevent a license from being used in the future, but will try to resolve this.

"The OSI needs a more formal procedure to allow companies to remove licenses from 'active license' status," said Majerus. "If nothing else, we need to make sure that all relevant parties in a corporation agree that they want to change the status of a license. We'll work on getting this going."