GPL in decline?

GPL V3 logoAccording to an analysis by the 451 Group, the proportion of open source projects that uses the GPL family of licences – the granddaddy of all free and open source licences – has been declining for several years, The H Online reported yesterday.

In summer of 2008, 70% of projects were licensed under the GPL or LGPL; that percentage has declined to 57% today. In a similar period (from summer 2009), the proportion of other permissive licences (MIT, Apache, BSD license and the Microsoft Public License) has risen from under 15% to over 25%.

However, this analysis is based on data from Black Duck Software, whose provenance cannot be verified.

Nevertheless, in spite of the decline in the overall proportion of products licensed under the GPL and/or LGPL, this does not imply that the number of GPL/LGPL-licensed projects has fallen too; their number has actually increased by 15% in the last two and a half years. Over the same period, however, the overall number of open source projects has risen by 30% and the number of projects with permissive licensing has doubled.

Tricky things, statistics…

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