Apple purchases CUPS to ward off GPL3 requirements?

Today the lead developer of the CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) project announced that in February 2007 Apple purchased the CUPS source code and took him on as a staff member. CUPS is significant within the *NIX world because it is arguably the most well supported and feature-rich printing system available. Apple has used it within OSX from the outset and personally I feel it is the best implementation of CUPS available thanks to the Aqua interface and the fact that the majority of printers just work without any effort.

There would seem to be no immediate danger of CUPS code being completely closed sourced considering it is currently released under the GPL2 license. What the code purchase suggests is that Apple probably plans on internally re-licensing the code under a closed source license for many, if not all of the platforms that could make use of it, i.e. Mac, AirPort and the iPhone.

Dual licensing such as this is not uncommon by vendors who control the rights to GPL code. It is a good way of benefiting from an open source development model and community whilst still being able to ship a modified version of the code on closed devices or only binary form. License flexibility such as this will become increasingly important as the GPL3 license is adopted as it resolves many of the loopholes vendors used to ship GPL code in what effect were closed devices (Tivoization).

Now that Apple does have a formal stake in CUPS my biggest hope is that they can spare a graphic designer to give the website and the CUPS interface with a much needed aesthetic overhaul and maybe a better logo...