Subject: Re: For Approval: BSD License, PostgreSQL Variant
From: "Michael Tiemann" <tiemann@opensource.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 20:00:58 -0400
Wed, 10 Oct 2007 20:00:58 -0400
On 10/10/07, Chris Travers <chris.travers@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> In response to a number of people in the community (including Rick
> Moen) and on the OSI board (including Michael Tiemann) who have
> publically stated that products must use OSI-approved licenses in
> order to call themselves "open source," I have decided to officially
> submit PostgreSQL's license to the OSI for approval.


Thank you.

I do so in the hope that the OSI will use the opportunity to decide on
> a unified and resonable statement about what is or is not "open
> source" and how this impacts concerns over license proliferation.


I think we have done that already: if the license is properly approved by
the OSI then the whole community (which includes press and analysts) can
confidently say that the software is open source.  If the license has not
been approved, people can argue that the license is OSD-conformant, but it's
just their untested word.

My preferred outcome would be for the OSI to drop the pretense that
> OSI approved licenses are the only open source licenses available in
> an unambiguous statement, as I feel that this would best serve
> anti-license-proliferation efforts, and then reject this license on
> antiproliferation grounds.  However, as an alternative, I would accept
> seeing it approved.  Either way, I do not want there to be any doubt
> in any public statements whether this particular project is open
> source or not.


I don't see how the approval of a license would produce such an outcome.  I
am more than game to follow what our process states, which is to discuss and
recommend to the board the approval, rejection, or further discussion of a
license.  But the submission of *this* license is unlikely for the OSI to
drop its /position/ (not a mere pretense) that the definition of open source
itself is based on peer review.

For those not aware of PostgreSQL, it is a mature, open source RDBMS
> which came out of UC Berkeley.  The license was thus written by the
> University of California and conforms without question to the OSD.


Indeed, the same University that brought us the BSD which, not
unsurprisingly, it resembles.


> [...]
>
> I do not believe that this license offers anything new to the world of
> permissive software licenses.  Personally I cannot think of any
> instance where it would be functionally different from the X.Org
> license, and this may or may not be functionally different from the
> MIT license (the only meaningful difference between those licenses is
> that the MIT license explicitly grants a sublicense right, while the
> X.org license does not).
>
> The license is slightly different from the ISC license in that it
> extends to the documentation as well as the software and the
> disclaimer section is different.  It is quite different from the "new
> BSD" license on opensource.org in structure and organization, and I
> believe it is clearer as the requirement that the pemrission grant is
> reproduced as a condition of inclusion of code
>
> The text of the license template here is included:
>
> [Program name]
>
> [Portions] Copyright (c) [years] [authors]
> ...
>
> Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its
> documentation for any purpose, without fee, and without a written
> agreement
> is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this
> paragraph and the following two paragraphs appear in all copies.
>
> IN NO EVENT SHALL [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] BE LIABLE TO ANY PARTY FOR
> DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING
> LOST PROFITS, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE AND ITS
> DOCUMENTATION, EVEN IF [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE
> POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
>
> THE [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES,
> INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY
> AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  THE SOFTWARE PROVIDED HEREUNDER IS
> ON AN "AS IS" BASIS, AND [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] HAS NO OBLIGATIONS TO
> PROVIDE MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT, UPDATES, ENHANCEMENTS, OR MODIFICATIONS.
>


I would like this list, and the board, to consider the proposition that we
could define a trivial compatibility licensing cohort, namely, any licenses
that permit either relicensing under substantially similar terms (such as
SimPL does for the GPL) or permits arbitrary copying, modification, and
redistribution along with any other licenses (subject to a limitation of
warranty for the initial contributor(s)) and is subject to no further
restrictions be treated as a member of the cohort license group.

It does require folks to obtain legal advice to see whether such inclusion
is proper for their jurisdiction and proposed combinations, but it should
not require a lawyer from the other side to negotitate such rights.
Moreover, licensors who are willing to specifically agree that their license
is, in fact, if member of a permissive cohort take the step of permitting
relicensing under other licenses (perhaps with the limitation that reference
to the initial license be maintained so that credit goes where credit is
due), the cohort would collapse to a single quantum licensing state, making
the proliferation question moot.

Licenses like the GPL (versions 2 and 3) are cohort sinks: they permit
others to relicense under their terms, but not to be relicensed under other
terms (except by decision of the author(s)).  Our license proliferation work
attempted to identify logical (if not legal) base equivalencies, and to the
extent we have, it's up to those who choose substantially similar terms to
agree that via some mechanism of preserving licensing history (a form of
attribution!) they can agree to consolidate around the popular ones (or a
neutrally-named cohort class).

Thoughts?




On 10/10/07, Chris Travers <chris.travers@gmail.com> wrote:
In response to a number of people in the community (including Rick
Moen) and on the OSI board (including Michael Tiemann) who have
publically stated that products must use OSI-approved licenses in
order to call themselves "open source," I have decided to officially
submit PostgreSQL's license to the OSI for approval.

Thank you.

I do so in the hope that the OSI will use the opportunity to decide on
a unified and resonable statement about what is or is not "open
source" and how this impacts concerns over license proliferation.

I think we have done that already: if the license is properly approved by the OSI then the whole community (which includes press and analysts) can confidently say that the software is open source.  If the license has not been approved, people can argue that the license is OSD-conformant, but it's just their untested word.

My preferred outcome would be for the OSI to drop the pretense that
OSI approved licenses are the only open source licenses available in
an unambiguous statement, as I feel that this would best serve
anti-license-proliferation efforts, and then reject this license on
antiproliferation grounds.  However, as an alternative, I would accept
seeing it approved.  Either way, I do not want there to be any doubt
in any public statements whether this particular project is open
source or not.

I don't see how the approval of a license would produce such an outcome.  I am more than game to follow what our process states, which is to discuss and recommend to the board the approval, rejection, or further discussion of a license.  But the submission of *this* license is unlikely for the OSI to drop its /position/ (not a mere pretense) that the definition of open source itself is based on peer review.

For those not aware of PostgreSQL, it is a mature, open source RDBMS
which came out of UC Berkeley.  The license was thus written by the
University of California and conforms without question to the OSD.

Indeed, the same University that brought us the BSD which, not unsurprisingly, it resembles.
 
[...]

I do not believe that this license offers anything new to the world of
permissive software licenses.  Personally I cannot think of any
instance where it would be functionally different from the X.Org
license, and this may or may not be functionally different from the
MIT license (the only meaningful difference between those licenses is
that the MIT license explicitly grants a sublicense right, while the
X.org license does not).

The license is slightly different from the ISC license in that it
extends to the documentation as well as the software and the
disclaimer section is different.  It is quite different from the "new
BSD" license on opensource.org in structure and organization, and I
believe it is clearer as the requirement that the pemrission grant is
reproduced as a condition of inclusion of code

The text of the license template here is included:

[Program name]

[Portions] Copyright (c) [years] [authors]
...

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its
documentation for any purpose, without fee, and without a written agreement
is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this
paragraph and the following two paragraphs appear in all copies.

IN NO EVENT SHALL [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] BE LIABLE TO ANY PARTY FOR
DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING
LOST PROFITS, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE AND ITS
DOCUMENTATION, EVEN IF [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

THE [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES,
INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY
AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  THE SOFTWARE PROVIDED HEREUNDER IS
ON AN "AS IS" BASIS, AND [INITIAL CONTRIBUTOR] HAS NO OBLIGATIONS TO
PROVIDE MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT, UPDATES, ENHANCEMENTS, OR MODIFICATIONS.


I would like this list, and the board, to consider the proposition that we could define a trivial compatibility licensing cohort, namely, any licenses that permit either relicensing under substantially similar terms (such as SimPL does for the GPL) or permits arbitrary copying, modification, and redistribution along with any other licenses (subject to a limitation of warranty for the initial contributor(s)) and is subject to no further restrictions be treated as a member of the cohort license group.

It does require folks to obtain legal advice to see whether such inclusion is proper for their jurisdiction and proposed combinations, but it should not require a lawyer from the other side to negotitate such rights.  Moreover, licensors who are willing to specifically agree that their license is, in fact, if member of a permissive cohort take the step of permitting relicensing under other licenses (perhaps with the limitation that reference to the initial license be maintained so that credit goes where credit is due), the cohort would collapse to a single quantum licensing state, making the proliferation question moot.

Licenses like the GPL (versions 2 and 3) are cohort sinks: they permit others to relicense under their terms, but not to be relicensed under other terms (except by decision of the author(s)).  Our license proliferation work attempted to identify logical (if not legal) base equivalencies, and to the extent we have, it's up to those who choose substantially similar terms to agree that via some mechanism of preserving licensing history (a form of attribution!) they can agree to consolidate around the popular ones (or a neutrally-named cohort class).

Thoughts?