Subject: Re: AFL source code obligation
From: "Chris Travers" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 19:48:57 -0700


On 10/16/07, Lawrence Rosen <> wrote:
> [Subject changed]
> Of course I didn't intend that. Please read AFL carefully. The promise to
> deliver source code in Section 3 in AFL (and identically in OSL also!) is
> upon the Licensor, not the licensee.

Then why have the external deployment section?

> Only the person who originally
> distributes the software under AFL must promise to provide source code
> (otherwise, is it really open source?).

So if I sell it in one medium with source code under the AFL, am I
agreeing to license it to any individuals under the external
deployment section via a source code license?  If not, why have that
clause at all (I dont see why I am required to license to them at

> But downstream, licensees under AFL
> are free to distribute their copies and derivative works "under any license
> of your choice...." See Section 1(c).

This is another big issue I have with the AFL..  If I were to choose a
permissive license, I wouldn't people to be able to distribute
verbatim copies under any license without even attempting to add their
own copyrighted elements.  People can use the code in their
applications under any license, with no obligation to give back, but
that is a very different thing changing licenses on a verbatim copy.

> Just like the BSD, but here *explicitly not* reciprocal or copyleft.
Not sure.  You seem to think one can take a mere literal copy of a BSD
work and change its license.  I don't think that right applies.  In
your license this is explicitly allowed.  In the MIT and BSD licenses,
it seems to be forbidden (in the sense that the original permission
grant  is reproduced on the code and addresses *all* downstream
recipients).  That is a big change.  But you are right in that neither
one is reciprocal or copyleft (the BSD license only "sticks" to
elements released under it and places no obligations on other holders
of other copyrights in a given compiled or derivative work to release
under the same terms).

> Compare the implications for source code because of Section 1(c) of the
> reciprocal/copyleft OSL. That license *does* impose a source code promise
> upon each downstream distributor/Licensor. Because that distribution must be
> under OSL (section 1(c)), each distributor becomes a Licensor promising
> source code under his own copy of the OSL license (section 3).

Note that unlike any other open source licensor,* "distributors"
include those who offer access to the software;s interfaces beyond
their organization.

* The Affero GPL specifically defines distribution to avoid this
interpretation, and the current draft of version 3 places restrictions
on modification, not on offering access over a network even though
these may have similar effect.

> This demonstrates that one must understand open source licenses in detail
> *and* as a whole, and not lose sight of the implications of one section upon
> another.


Best Wishes,
Chris Travers