Selecting A Free Software License


I’ve been stuck in the world of open source software licensing recently. I’ve written a reasonable amount of software for use by my company, getpepper, and I would be happy to make some of that software open source. Although I’m inclined to help others, and generally hope to do things that are considered to be socially useful, my choice to open source isn’t purely altruistic. Certainly I hope it benefits others as it benefits getpepper by its use. But I also hope that getpepper and maybe me, individually, will benefit from the wider exposure that open sourcing can bring.

The initial items of software that I’m considering open sourcing are plugins for WordPress and jQuery, both of which currently use the GPL version 2 license. There is a view that developing extensions for at least one of these platforms means that those extensions themselves become GPL’d. I want to understand the commercial implications of this as it effects my company when it releases its software under an open source license – and here I probably mean the GPL, or a GPL-compatible license.


So with the above in mind here are a couple of my concerns.

  • As the original author and copyright holder of the software, can I recover that software to apply a different, non-GPL-compatible license to it?
  • Are the rights of the original author any different to the rights of any other user of the software?

Maybe I’m being overly cautious and a little edgy about committing my time and hard work to an open source license, or maybe I’m not really giving too many of my rights away. I’m not sure as I’m not a lawyer and prefer to spend my time writing software, not figuring out the intricacies of licensing law – which seems pretty dull compared to writing most, but not all, types of software. Anyway, hopefully some of my future posts will reflect a more legally aware view!