Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem


Boy, am I on some kind of blog binge this week. It’s amazing how a few weeks without travel helps.

Dana Blackenhorn wrote a piece earlier today discussing Matt Asay’s article on why the Apache license is better than the GPL. In his article, he states the following:

If your company wants to release its own code, and control that code, if open source is mainly a marketing concept to you, then a BSD license such as Apache or Eclipse makes perfect sense.

Dana’s statement makes an error that I have seen repeatedly. Namely, that the EPL is a “BSD-style” license and is therefore similar or equivalent to the Apache license. This is just plain wrong. And it worries me that a long-time open source observer such as Dana would make this mistake.

The EPL is what is sometimes referred to as a “weak copyleft” license. It most certainly is a reciprocal license in the same way that the LGPL and the MPL are, for example. (The European Union describes the EPL as a strong copyleft license, in its paper describing license compatibility with the EUPL.)

In our view, the copyleft provisions of the EPL gives our community the best of both worlds. Yes, changes and modifications to EPL-licensed code need to be contributed back. This helps ensure that everyone involved is incented to make their contributions back to the platform, and encourages community building. But at the same time, because the EPL (a) does not define simply linking to it as creating a derivative work and (b) allows re-licensing of binaries under commercial terms, it encourages commercial adoption.

Written by Mike Milinkovich

April 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Foundation, Open Source

2 Responses

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  1. Hi Mike.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on open source licensing. It’s very valuable and interesting.

    How do you position LGPL compared to EPL? From my perspective it seems very similar in term of proprietary reuse, but I might miss the point. Would really be interested in understanding your vision about EPL vs LGPL.

    Thanks, EB.


    May 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  2. @Eric – Did you happen to see my recent post on this topic?

    Mike Milinkovich

    May 5, 2009 at 2:44 am

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