Saturday, April 01, 2006

Python 2.5 Licensing Change

[To avoid any uncertainty on the part of later readers, this article was part of an April Fool's joke. No such licensing changes are currently anticipated. SH]

April 1, 2006 -- The Python Software Foundation today announces a significant change to the licensing conditions for the Python programming language. Since this change will require payments by commercial users this article explains the reasoning that led the Board to the decision to change Python's licensing terms and conditions. First, the details of the change: Section B, clause 2 is modified to read (our italics):
2. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License Agreement, PSF hereby grants Licensee a nonexclusive, world-wide license to reproduce, analyze, test, perform and/or display publicly, prepare derivative works, distribute, and otherwise use Python 2.5 alone or in any derivative version, provided, however, that PSF's License Agreement and PSF's notice of copyright, i.e., "Copyright (c) 2001-2006 Python Software Foundation; All Rights Reserved" are retained in Python 2.5 alone or in any derivative version prepared by Licensee. License is royalty free for applications and derivative products distributed under any approved open source license. Other applications and derivative products are required to pay the Python Software Foundation a royalty of $US 1.25 per installed copy.
The Board realises that this change will be contentious. There are many advantages to making it, however, which we feel will benefit the Python community at large and the PSF membership in particular. Users who wish to make commercial use of Python on a royalty-free basis are encouraged to continue using Python 2.4, whose licensing conditions remain the same. The decision has been borne of necessity: the Foundation is supposed to promote the advance of the Python language, but to do this properly would involve many expenses that the Foundation simply cannot afford to incur without increasing its income. The additional money will be put to good use, funding several adventurous programs:
  • We anticipate being able to pay individuals to speak about Python to encourage the growth of the user community; this will in turn increase revenues still further.
  • The treasurer's projections indicate that by the year 2010 we should be able to make PyCon a completely free conference.
  • A further round of grants will be awarded for the development of new language features, including a) making strings mutable; b) re-implementing regular expressions to give better conformance with Perl; and c) porting Python to the simple CPU.
Python has always been a community-based language, and the Board of the Foundation sincerely hope that users will send us their own ideas for taking advantage of the significant funding that this change is likely to provide. The Board is grateful to the Advanced Program for Research In Licensing, whose First Object-Oriented License was a model for these changes. Interested readers can find out more about this license on this page.