Saturday, February 24, 2007

Alfresco Moving to the GPL

Alfresco recently announced that it will be moving their Community Edition from the MPL (Mozilla Public License) + Attribution to the GPL (v3) with an FLOSS exception that makes it easier to for other open source software with a OSI certified open source to use Alfresco as a component. Version 3 of the GPL is not quite fully ratified yet so there might be some slight changes in Alfresco licensing depending on where the GPL lands. The license change will affect the 2.0 release of Alfresco and apply to any software downloaded after February 20, 2007.

For most companies using Alfresco, the shift to the GPL will not have much impact because the Enterprise Version (which Alfresco recommends you buy if you are using the product in production) will carry a commercial license that is distinct from the GPL. I don't know the ins and outs of how the Alfresco commercial license interacts with the licenses of the underlying open source components that Alfresco is built on (Spring (Apache License), Hibernate (LGPL), MyFaces (Apache License), etc.). However, I would stay that Alfresco has too much to lose and access to too much legal advance to do anything in violation of those open source licenses. Alfrescians, please feel free to weigh in here.

For those of you who have been keeping score, this is the third major licensing incarnation that Alfresco has gone through. Originally, they had a limited featured Community Edition and sold an Enteprise Edition that consisted of the Community Edition plus proprietary extensions. Then they open sourced the entire application but made the community edition badge-ware. This latest model is more akin to MySQL's dual license. And MySQL seems to have built a <understatement>nice little business for itself</understatement>. My colleagues and I have been secretly hoping that Alfresco would move in this direction and I am very happy that they have because I think it makes more sense for everyone.