Google Backtracks on Eclipse and Mozilla Licences

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Google plays a key role in the world of free software, both indirectly, through the fact that it runs most of its infrastructure on open source, and directly, through its support of projects (not least the dosh it gives to Mozilla).

Against that background, its refusal to make certain popular licences like those from Mozilla and Eclipse available to projects hosted on Google Code was curious. After all, it hardly cost it much to accept a couple more; its argument that it was trying to do its bit against licence proliferation never really convinced.

Well, it seems that Google has recognised it was probably harming open source (and its own image there) more than it was helping with this policy, and has carried out a minor U-turn:

You might remember that we recently removed the MPL from the list of licenses available to projects hosted on Google Code. We did this because we have been trying as a company to make a statement against open source license proliferation. You see, we feel it is damaging to the larger world of open source development if there are too many duplicative licenses. So...Why are we changing our mind about the MPL and EPL now?

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Eclipse is an important, lively and healthy project with an enormous plug in and developer community that uses an otherwise duplicative license. They aren't interested in using the BSD or other open source licenses that are readily combinable with EPL code. We have decided that after nearly 2 years of operation, that it was time to add the EPL and serve these open source developers.

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In that light, our removal of the MPL from the site seemed a little absurd. So, our bad. We're putting that option back up for new projects. The groups that want to use the MPL to enable their additions, extensions and more for Firefox and other Mozilla projects are legion and considering their recent summit, represent a very healthy global collection of developers.

This is good news. It means that coders get more choice, and, perhaps more importantly, shows that Google, notwithstanding its behemoth-like nature, can still listen and learn, albeit a little slowly. Now, perhaps we could have a word with you about the AGPL...