Optimus Prime's post IceFaces Copies PrimeFaces Line by Line and Brian McKinney's response (New ACE Component Origins) have led to a controversial discussion on the blogosphere regarding legalities and ethics in an open source context. It is interesting to read the perspectives of those associated with PrimeFaces, the perspectives of those associated with ICEfaces, and the community reaction (and here).
Although I tend not to use JavaServer Faces, I have still found the general discussion interesting because the points and counterpoints being made could apply to any open source development projects. Perspectives on what is legal, what is ethical, and what is morale in open source appear to differ greatly among users of these products. Some people think that everything that has been done is legal and ethical. Others believe it is legal but unethical and still others believe there may be copyright infringement even if there are no license issues.
There are numerous good points made in these online discussions that made me think more about the nature of open source. There is no question that there are numerous different perspectives on what's right and wrong in open source, but I'd like to see opinions from well-known open source advocates such as Simon Phipps and Richard Stallman on the matter.
This recent open source controversy is also a reminder of the importance of choosing the appropriate license for one's open source projects. There is always a tenuous balance between wanting to offer a very liberal license to increase adoption and wanting to protect one's work and get appropriate credit/attribution for that work. The Apache Software Foundation license is very friendly to other users, but in this case it seems it may be a little more liberal than the folks at PrimeFaces would have liked.