Subject: RE: Best base license to pick?
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 13:49:10 -0800

Alright, John, I'll construe.

You wrote:
> An open-source license must:
> 
> 1. EITHER permit modified works to be distributed in modified form,
> 2. OR, forbid such distribution but allow distribution in pristine+patches
> form.

I think your alternative 2 is contrary to the OSD. I'm disappointed that the
Trolltech QPL license insists upon it, and I would encourage disapproval if
their license weren't grandfathered in.

I think your alternative 1 goes slightly too far. I suggest the following:

       "An open source license must permit modified works 
        to be distributed." (Or see, instead, Open Source
        Principle #3.)

The form of modified works should not be dictated by the licensor. The
notion that a license would restrict me to "pristine+patches" or
distribution in "modified form" is an attempt to legislate a technology
alternative that a downstream licensee shouldn't have to accept. (For
example, what is "pristine+patches" or "modified form" when an object
invokes another object?)

As for the concern for the purity of their original code that seems to
consume some licensors, I tried to solve that problem with the "Attribution
Rights" provision of the OSL. (See section 6.) A licensor can place a notice
like the following in his source code:

   /* ATTRIBUTION NOTICE;
      If you modify this software, please do it in the form of
      a pristine work plus patches. That way everyone will clearly
      identify what I wrote and what you wrote.
      Please also note that my license requires you to add your
      own ATTRIBUTION NOTICE if you distribute changes to this 
      software so that I won't be blamed for what you do.
   */

This is an informational notice only, but it can't be deleted from the
source code. It imposes no requirements beyond those of the OSL license
itself.

I'm kind of self-conscious about refusing OSL revisions for people whose
hearts are in the right place. But sometimes I'm as obstinate as RMS. In
this (and similar) cases, I'm making the statement that the method or
technology of creating derivative works is no business of the licensor and I
won't let my own licenses be used to play that game.

Best regards,

/Larry

Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (www.rosenlaw.com)
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242  ●  fax: 707-485-1243
Author of “Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom 
               and Intellectual Property Law” (Prentice Hall 2004)
 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [mailto:jcowan@reutershealth.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 12:54 PM
> To: Lawrence Rosen
> Cc: 'Alex Bligh'; license-discuss@opensource.org
> Subject: Re: Best base license to pick?
> 
> Lawrence Rosen scripsit:
> 
> > There is a difference between "license allows" and "license requires."
> But
> > anyway, that's just one person's opinion. I don't make decisions about
> > license approval.
> 
> Construe, construe!
> 
> An open-source license must:
> 
> 1. EITHER permit modified works to be distributed in modified form,
> 2. OR, forbid such distribution but allow distribution in pristine+patches
> form.
> 
> The QPL takes option 2; all other licenses take option 1.
> 
> > As for John Cowan's suggestion that I allow a modified version of the
> OSL to
> > deal with this wrinkle, I'm not so inclined. Sorry. If the rules are
> simple
> > and the licenses few in number, I believe, we're much more likely to
> grow a
> > large commons of free and open source software.
> 
> Okay, then the Trolltech path alone is open to us.  I've contacted
> Trolltech
> to get permission to derive a new license from the QPL.
> 
> --
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