Category Archives: licensing

Second Life Moves to Open Source

Second Life has just announced that the Second Life client has been released under an open source license, and they described their move to open source as “inevitable”:

“At Linden, we have always been strong advocates of the use of open standards and the advantages of using open source products. Though Second Life makes abundant use of non-standard technologies, our basic UDP protocol message system for example, we rely on open standards and open source implementations when appropriate and available. Since many of the components that will make up this network are not yet done, we are not publishing long white papers or RFCs at this time — instead, we are giving everyone what we have along with a goal of producing those open standards with the input and assistance of the community that has brought Second Life to where it is now.

Releasing the source now is our next invitation to the world to help build this global space for communication, business, and entertainment. We are eager to work with the community and businesses to further our vision of our space.” (Quote from the Second Life Blog)

I also found it interesting that Linden Lab specified the GNU GPL version 2, rather than releasing it under the GPL and future versions … another company hedging its bets on the still under development GPL v3.

I think this is a great move for Linden Lab, and an astute business decision. By releasing the client software under open source, residents can modify their client experience, while Linden Lab continues to provide the server side code, which is where they make their revenue. Linden Lab is providing a more flexible environment for users, which should translate to additional users, and at the same time, they continue to have the revenue stream required to keep Second Life in business.

MySQL Hedges Bets on GPL

MySQL “kind of sort of (not really) changes its license model”. Until recently, MySQL was licensed under GPLv2 or later, but they have changed their license to be GPLv2 only. This may sound like a small change, but it is a significant (and smart change). Anyone licensed under GPLv2 or later will automatically convert to the GPLv3 when it is released. This gives MySQL the option to decide whether (or not) to move to the GPLv3, instead of automatically converting upon release of GPLv3. MySQL will have the opportunity to review the final version of the GPLv3 license and make an informed decision about which license makes the most sense for MySQL’s business needs.

Not every company (or project / organization) can change their license at will:

MySQL owns the copyright to its database code so can change the license any time it likes (and indeed offer the software under dual licenses). While the company is not ruling out a change to GPL v3 once it is completed, it is hedging its bets in case it does not like the results.” (Quote from Matthew Aslett on Computer Business Review Online)