Black Duck Analyzes the Decline of Copyleft Licenses

May 3, 2012

IT World recently reported on a growing disuse of copyleft licenses in the article “GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Faster Than Ever.”

According to the article, recent data analyzed by Matthew Aslett of  Black Duck Software has shown that while the use of the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL set of copyleft (the method of making software free) licenses dominates free and open source projects, that use is still on the decline.

When asked his opinion on the cause for the decline, Aslett said:

“The analysis indicated that the previous dominance of strong copyleft licenses was achieved and maintained to a significant degree due to vendor-led open source projects, and that the ongoing shift away from projects controlled by a single vendor toward community projects was in part driving a shift towards more permissive non-copyleft licenses.”

He also believes that the decline in GPL specifically is not a result of projects moving away from GPL, but that new vendors are choosing community approaches enabled by permissive licenses, rather than attempting to control projects using the GPL.

This is a very interesting interpretation of the causality of declining GPL. We’re interested to see how it continues to unfold.

Jasmine Ashton, May 3, 2012

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