An Exploratory Study of the Evolution of Software Licensing

Date Added: Sep 2009
Format: PDF

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is distributed and made available to users under different software licenses, mentioned in FOSS code by means of licensing statements. Various factors, such as changes in the legal landscape, commercial code licensed as FOSS, or code reused from other FOSS systems, lead to evolution of licensing, which may affect the way a system or part of it can be subsequently used. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor licensing evolution. However, manually tracking the licensing evolution of thousands of files is a daunting task. After presenting several cases about the effects of licensing evolution, the authors argue that developers and system integrators must monitor licensing evolution and they need an automatic approach due of the sheer size of FOSS.