Subject: Re: FOR APPROVAL - Python License Changes
From: Russ Nelson <>
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2011 11:44:50 -0400

Karl Fogel writes:
 > (Btw, I realize that OSI approved it already, in the CNRI Python
 > 1.6-beta-1 license at and in the
 > related portion of  This is
 > just the same language as there, so we'd be hard pressed to reject the
 > license because of it now.  But read on.)

Times change, and understanding of effects changes. Something which we
approved in the past may not be approvable today. We're not a court;
precedents are instructive but not limiting.

 >   > OSI definition 4 permits PSF clause 3.
 >   > 
 >   > In fact, OSI has approved licenses which forbid distributing
 >   > modified works except as patch files.  This was done to largely to
 >   > recognize that software like DJB's qmail is still OSI open source.
 > But I don't think that's quite the same thing.  Requiring changes to be
 > distributed as patch files is well-defined, unambiguous, and can be
 > achieved automatically.  It's a bit of a hassle, but it's an automatable
 > and essentially trivial hassle.

And that wasn't the reasoning. The reasoning was (as you write) and
put forth because of TrollTech's Qt Public License. DJB's qmail wasn't
open source. It wasn't even freely copyable software! With no
copyright license, you couldn't copy it, but instead had to fetch each
copy afresh from DJB's website.

 > On the other hand, a "brief summary" is nothing like patch files.  A
 > brief summary means the distributor of the derived work has to write a
 > human-comprehensible summary of a diff of arbitrary complexity.

"Brief" is also a nebulous term to be putting in a license. I
speculate that the idea was to limit the difficulty of producing a
summary, addressing our concerns.

 > Have you talked to CNRI about getting clause 3 removed?

I think that is a good course of action. It can take some persistence
and patience, but I think it can be done.

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