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GPLv3 Scores Big Win With SugarCRM

SugarCRM has changed directions, announcing today that it will move to the GPL version 3 for the upcoming release of Sugar Community Edition 5.0, which is expected in September.

According to SugarCRM's FAQ on the move, SugarCRM believes that the GPLv3, formally released in June, will become the standard for all open source licenses, and wanted to get a head start on adoption.

The announcement comes amid an ongoing debate in the open source community in recent months about what should actually be referred to as open source. Some, including Chris DiBona, open source program manager at Google, maintain that if the Open Source Initiative (OSI) doesn't approve the license, then it is not correct to refer to a program as being open source.

The poster child for open source non-compliance has been those that use the Mozilla Public License (MPL) with an attribution clause. While the MPL itself is open source, MPL with attribution is not. The most prominent company to use MPL with attribution is SugarCRM, which many credit with helping to popularize the approach with its Sugar Public License.

"Since GPLv3 is based on the most popular license in the open source universe, the community is able to adopt and develop on what is sure to be the de facto standard license," the SugarCRM GPLv3 FAQ states. "This will ensure greater interoperability and enhanced community collaboration as GPLv3 becomes widely adopted in the same manner as earlier versions of the GPL."

The difference between what SugarCRM had been doing with its non-OSI-compliant license is similar to what the GPLv3 will provide. SugarCRM stated that the Sugar Community Edition conforms to the attribution provisions in GPLv3 - Section 7. Additionally they noted that the rights that they had been extending to developers under the SPL are similar to those provided by GPLv3.

"The major practical difference is that the code will be licensed under GPLv3, which works with many more licenses and projects than SPL," SugarCRM's FAQ states.

451 Group analyst Raven Zachary blogged that among the other reasons why SugarCRM would go for the GPLv3 is to align itself more closely with OSI.

"SugarCRM has been taking a fair amount of heat from members of the open source community (including OSI Board Member Michael Tiemann, who works at Red Hat) over its use of the term 'open source' and its requirement for attribution," Zachary wrote. "This may seem like a contradiction, as SugarCRM intends to keep the attribution clause in place. However, Mozilla+Attribution a la the Sugar Public License is not blessed by the OSI, while the GPLv3 will be."

It's not clear whether other vendors, such as collaboration software provider Zimbra, which have modeled their license after SugarCRM's will follow its migration to GPLv3.

Software vendor Palamida, which develops an application that is used to identify licenses and potential licensing issues, estimated the day before GPLv3 was finalized that some 5,509 projects indicated an intention to move to GPLv3.

Since the GPLv3 release, Palamida said 212 projects have made the move.