Dave Johnson: A Simple Explanation of Open Licenses (Updated)

I ran across this classic from 2006 and just had to make sure to remember it.

Dave Johnson humorously and insightfully reduces open source licenses to this over-simplified form by creating three classes of licenses: (a) Gimme Credit, (b) Gimme Patches, and (c) Gimme it ALL!

I cannot say it better than Dave Johnson does in this classic 2006 blog post:


Read the blog comments. The second one in particular that refines the over simplified notion of GPL making it clear that “Gimme All!” only matters when you redistribute.

And actually, with the new Affero GPL, the list should be:

  • Gimme Credit! (Apache, BSD, MIT)
  • Gimme Patches! ( MPL, CDDL, LGPL)
  • Gimme it ALL! if you redistribute. (GPL)
  • Gimme it ALL! (Affero GPL)

That somewhat completes Dave’s list nicely and brings it up to date.