GPL or BSD for government?

There has been a lot of buzz in the Open Source community about which OS license is appropriate for government use. A recent thread on Slashdot talks about which license is the best choice. In a rare lack of “First Post!” syndrome the posters have managed an insightful thread. All make great points on why they should choose the GPL or why they should choose BSD license; they being the government.

On a whole I have to say the BSD license makes the most sense. Yes it would be nice if all code based on publicly funded projects was open, but it does not fall in line with current standards. If a publicly funded researcher uses public funds to find out a certain bacteria attacks and kills the AIDS virus natrually his research, by law in most cases, would have to be released without IP restrictions. This means Pfizer could come along and create a drug based on this research and charge billions of dollars for it.

While the above example may not be the greatest outcome, it must be said that Pfizer pays taxes too. Also, in the end the public is much better served by the solution than the research. On the other side of the coin, the GPL side, Pfizer should manufacture and distribute the drug for free, which does not make much sense.

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