I don’t have strong opinions on licensing – I use excellent projects licensed under the GPL, including the Linux kernel, Discourse (this platform), and Wordpress. However, many of these points resonate:
You can force a company to make their source code of a GPL-derived software project available, but you cannot force them to be good citizens of the open source community (e.g. continuing to maintain the features they have added, fixing bugs, helping other contributors, providing good documentation, participating in project governance). What worth is source code that is just “thrown over the wall” without genuine engagement in the open source project? At best it’s worthless, and at worst it’s harmful because it shifts the burden of maintenance to other contributors of the project.
We need people to be good contributors to the open source community, and this is achieved by setting up the right incentives and by being welcoming, not by software licenses.
Perhaps the biggest factor to success is the culture we build around a project. Legal constraints, while necessary to set basic structure and expectations, are likely not very motivating.
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