Corporates wary of General Public Licence terms

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Corporates wary of General Public Licence terms

Companies want assurance against legal action.

Companies are running scared of General Public Licence (GPL) software for fear of being sued, according to a leading open source enthusiast at Adobe.

"A number of very large companies have rules to exclude GPL code," said Dave McAllister, director of standards and open source at Adobe.

"GPL2 had something that made lawyers comfortable – it was ambiguous. GPL3 tightened up the rules and they are holding fast until it gets tested in court."

McAllister explained that he had been brought into Adobe on the premise that certain software could be open sourced. This was evidenced by a number of elements of Flash that are now available under an open-source licence.

However, there are still a large number of companies that are scared of the GPL licence, since it means spending time and money getting engineers to check code for GPL violations.

"There are a number of companies that will not allow GPL code," McAllister said. "It goes in very controlled circumstances."

Free software actually costs a lot of money, according to McAllister. Engineers need to go through the software to determine whether there is anything that conflicts with the GPL, and that takes a lot of time and money.

"I like open source," said McAllister. "But I also really like eating and putting my son through college."

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