How many open source licenses do you need?

After an impassioned plea from a developer ont he opensource mailing lists, looking for help through the myriad of 73 versions of open source licenses that are out there, a participant pointed out this link, an article by written back in February 2009 by Bruce Perens (“Bruce Perens is the creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of Open Source and the criterion for Open Source software licensing. Perens represented Open Source at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, at the request of the United Nations Development Program.”)

In the article, Perens draws the conclusion that, when looked at it realistically, a business can do with a decision between no more than 4 licences, and then they’d only have to choose between 2, really…

Larry Rosen, of Rosenlaw and Einschlag (“a technology law firm”) commented on this just last night: “It’s bullshit and should be called out as such every time it is repeated”. He goes on to say that those who believe their software is of value and importance should spend the time on research rather than preferring simple answers. In that case, “help yourself to Bruce’s choices”.

The open source world, and patent and copyright legislation is not yet at a point that allows neat simplification of license selection into “three or four […] buckets”.

There are no shortcuts in the license, copyright and patent decision-making process.

But you knew that already…