The CPAL was initially developed by social enterprise wiki company Socialtext, and approved by the OSI last year. Since then it has not seen wide adoption, although it is used by several prominent open-source projects, including the xTuple ERP applications and the Mule ESB. It's based on the familiar Mozilla Public License (used by Firefox, among other high-profile pieces of software) with two key modifications.
And from the Facebook Open Platform page:
How Is This Licensed?
Facebook Open Platform (except for the FBML parser) is licensed under a Common Public Attribution License (CPAL), which follows the Mozilla Public License (MPL) with two additions:
- That you include attribution to Facebook on any modifications.
- That network deployment, or making modifications available over the network, counts as distribution, which makes the license appropriate for Web services.
You can find the CPAL here.
The FBML parser is licensed under the MPL. You can find the MPL here.
After all the hard work I put into the license, I'm glad to see another prominent use.
And here he go into the weeds again, because while Google, MySpace and Yahoo have won headlines for their OpenSocial initiative, they have yet to choose a license for the code, and Google is notoriously against closing the SaaS loophole.
The goal of this release is to help you as developers better understand Facebook Platform as a whole and more easily build applications, whether it’s by running your own test servers, building tools, or optimizing your applications on this technology. We’ve built in extensibility points, so you can add functionality to Facebook Open Platform like your own tags and API methods. We’re also hoping you use Facebook Open Platform in ways we’ve never thought of – just as you showed off your creativity with Facebook Platform, we hope this lets you be creative with the foundation of the platform itself.
The 451 Group interpreted this as dismay, applauds the move and discusses license tradeoffs:
Facebook also cited CPAL, which requires attribution, as a better match for network deployment and how software works today. This makes sense, but it also makes me wonder why not the Affero GPL?
Distributing the software over a network is an act of redistribution. If you make modifications, you should contribute them back to the community, as is the case with almost every other Open Source license. I'll also point out that CPAL only asks for equal attribution, which for practically all needs is no burden. 451 gets this, just trying to be clear, and I also found their post on how Google is suppressing APGL worth a read.
But the one thing you must read is my friend Chris Messina's post. He comes out negative on CPAL, but the real point is there is a real transition here. One that I know for a fact is difficult for many great and reasonable developers. One that is real for the community. One that may be less about the license options than the topology of code and our interesting times.
Furthermore, in light of my recent posts, it occurs to me that the nature of open source is changing (or being changed) by the accelerating move to cloud computing architectures (where the source code is no longer necessarily a strategic asset, but where durable and ongoing access to data is the primary concern (harkening to Tim O’Reilly’s frequent “Data is the Intel Inside” quip) and how Facebook is the first of a new class of enterprises that’s growing up after open source.
I hope to expand on this line of thinking, but I’m starting to wonder — with regards to open source becoming essentially passé nowadays — did we win? Are we on top? Hurray? Or, did we bet on the wrong horse? Or, did the goalposts just move on us (again)? Or, is this just the next stage in an ongoing, ever-volatile struggle to balance the needs of business models that tend towards centralization against those more free-form and freedom seeking and expanding models where information and knowledge must diffuse, and must seek out growth and new hosts in order to continue to become more valuable. Again, pointing to Tim’s contention that Web 2.0 is also at least partly about harnessing collective intelligence, and that data sources that grow richer as more people use them is a facet of the landscape, what does openness mean now? What barriers do we need to dissemble next? If it’s no longer the propriety of software code, then is it time that we began, in earnest, to scale the walls of the propriety data horders and collectors and take back (or re-federate) what might be rightfully ours? Or that we should at least be given permanent access to? Hmm?