If you want your code to be open source, it needs an OSI-approved copyright license. Code with no license to the copyright isn’t open source.
That may sound basic (and obvious for OSI’s president to say), but a surprising number of people disagree. In the last week, I’ve heard three misunderstandings expressed from across the open source “political” spectrum. Each is dangerous in its own way; together they are a threat to open source.
Let’s take a look at each misinterpretation.
*All software should be public domain. Every restriction is wrong. Adding a license is a restriction. This view has come from developers — some associated with BSD — who regard any use of a license as an attempt at unwarranted control. They would rather their code was “public domain,” but most now realize that public domain does not make matters clear enough for developers outside the United States, where the concept is different or nonexistent. Falling back to using the BSD license is the least-worst solution. They see “licensing” as an unwelcome imposition on the recipients of their code.
*Anyone who can stop software being open is wrong. This license doesn’t stop that proprietary use, so it’s bad. This view has come from developers — generally users of the GPL family of licenses — who believe all code that starts out open source should always remain open source. They see licenses that allow others to take open source code and make it hidden and proprietary as wrong, and prefer licenses that require republication of source code. As such, they reject any licenses that aren’t strong copyleft.