Issue #6 April 2005

Open source software licenses explained

Mark Webbink, Red Hat Legal

In this video, Mark Webbink, Deputy General Counsel for Red Hat, delivers a broad overview of the software licenses around open source, in layman's terms.

The term "Free and Open Source Software," or FOSS for short, has come to represent software that falls under one of two definitions: the Free Software Definition of the Free Software Foundation, or the Open Source Definition of the Open Source Institute. These licenses differ slightly, but they agree fundamentally on three freedoms:

  • The freedom to copy
  • The freedom to make derivative works
  • The freedom to redistribute

There are many open source licenses of various kinds, and all of them agree absolutely on the nature of the first two freedoms. But the third freedom—freedom to redistribute—is trickier. Two prominent licenses, the GNU General Public License (GPL) and the Berkeley Software Distribution License (BSD) differ on this key point. Mark explains the implications of these differences, and why they matter.

Download the video: [QuickTime] [RealPlayer]
Stream the video: [RealPlayer]