SugarCRM is to adopt version 3 of the GNU general public license (GPLv3) for the next release of its open-source CRM software after coming under pressure from its user community to move away from its own Sugar Public License.

Sugar Community Edition 5.0, the open-source version of the SugarCRM software, due out in September, will be licensed under GPLv3, the vendor announced this week. GPLv3 debuted at the end of June.

“We just think it’s a great license,” said John Roberts, SugarCRM CEO and cofounder. “It’s more copyleft, more liberal and less restrictive than our current license.” He added that when the beta version of Sugar Community Edition 5.0 ships within two weeks, it will be licensed under GPLv3.

A recent thread on SugarCRM’s general discussion open-source forum was entitled “Why the Sugar license is mad, bad and may be dangerous.” It is part of a wider debate currently raging in the open-source community as to whether companies using licenses that haven't been approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) can really call themselves open-source companies.

There’s concern that companies using non-OSI approved licenses could act contrary to the interests of the open-source community and behave like proprietary software vendors while continuing to refer to themselves as open-source entities.

The OSI is a non-profit consortium that acts as an education and advocacy group as well as a standards body determining what is and what isn’t open source. It has given its seal of approval in the form of the OSI Approved License to more than 50 open-source licenses including the GPL as well as Apache Software License, Sun’s Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) Eclipse Public License, IBM Public License, Intel Open Source License and Mozilla Public License.

The GPL gives users the right to freely study, copy, modify, reuse, share and redistribute software. Created by Richard Stallman in 1989 for the GNU free operating system project, the license, popular among free and open-source software (FOSS) developers, was last fully revised 16 years ago as GPLv2.

The license was rewritten to reflect emerging issues. A third draft of GPLv3 was delayed until January to ensure that it dealt with the potential ramifications of a patent-licensing deal around Suse Linux struck between Novell and Microsoft last November. Parts of the Linux operating system including its kernel are licensed under GPLv2.