Could you be a little more specific about the kind of software this is about?
That might reveal why people shy away from the project.
Tangentially, you manage to bring up a very good point. One huge problem is the software projects might be using. A number of companies open sourced their software before the notion of a 'standardized' license method became prevalent. If a project is not Mozilla, GPL, or BSD compatible then it will have a very hard time attracting new developers. I know would not want to work on something that did not have a useful open source license. I would encourage the submitter to make sure whatever he is working on have a standard, permissive as possible license (if possible) before he closes shop.
I know one interesting project (from a historical perspective) that suffers from this is the Open Watcom compiler with its non-compatible Sybase Public License. This project fits the submitter's description to a tee. I bet there are others like this. At least POV-Ray got around to fixing their license finally.