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19 December 2011, 16:32

Open source licences: the GPL appears to be declining

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According to an analysis by the 451 Group, the proportion of open source projects that uses the GPL family of licences has been declining for several years. According to the market researchers, in the summer of 2008, 70 per cent of projects were GPL- and LGPL-licensed; today it has fallen to 57 per cent. In a similar period (from summer 2009), the proportion of permissive licences (MIT, Apache, BSD license, and Microsoft Public License) has risen from under 15 per cent to over 25 per cent.

The analysis is based on figures from Black Duck Software, the origin of which, as the 451 Group itself acknowledges, lacks transparency. However, as the researchers had previously analysed another set of data from the FLOSSmole project which confirmed the findings based on Black Duck's data, it considers those findings to be "an accurate reflection of the situation". They expect that the trend away from strict copyleft licences to permissive licences will continue.

The 451 Group notes that the declining share of GPL-licensed open source projects does not mean that the absolute number of GPL projects has fallen: in the last two and a half years, that number has risen by 15 per cent. In the same period, however, the total number of open source projects increased by 30 per cent, and the number of permissive-licensed projects has more than doubled.

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