Subject: Re: On the licensing terms of the open source licenses text
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 11:01:59 -0700

Quoting Philippe Ombredanne (

[Blanket copyright statement on OSI Web pages.]

> This could be construed as making the text of the licenses available
> under the OSL.

I think the Web maintainer's clearly implied intent is to state terms
for written materials (a) for which terms are not otherwise specified,
and (b) owned by OSI.

As you yourself pointed out, copyright over the OSL's text as a creative
work isn't owned by OSI, but rather by Larry Rosen.  Therefore, even if
an OSI Web page purported to grant you some rights to it, that page
would be factually mistaken in so claiming.

> How can I reuse the text of a license like the OSL to create a new
> license?

It seems to me that you cannot, by Larry's specific intent.  (Of course,
you can lawfully write and publish a licence along very similar lines
using OSL as a model, avoiding copyright infringement by writing
something that is in a legal sense a separate work and not derivative of
Larry's.  The details of how to do so are, well..., your problem.)

This sort of restriction is both common and in place for obvious
and perfectly compelling reasons:  FSF, for example, doesn't really want
dozens of almost-but-not-quite GPL licences floating around to confuse

> Is this licensed under the OSL? 


> Or restricted to Larry's terms?


> Can I create a new license, for instance the nexB public license, based
> on the text of the OSL, or other license text but with every reference
> to the OSL removed, except for copyright attributions, creating a
> derivative work of the license text?

If you're seeking specific advice on how to create a new work very
similar to an existing one, but not legally a derivative of the older
one, you really should be speaking to a good copyright attorney, not
this mailing list.

Or, of course, you could just tell Larry what you want to do, and ask

> And if I use an existing OSI approved license as a base, would I need to
> go through the full legal commentary to submit it for approval? 

How could the answer possibly be anything but "yes"?

And all of this begs the question of why on earth you're seeking to
create Yet Another Public Licence, rather than using one of the existing
ones.  Historically, most people's reasons for doing so have been
ill-advised and ultimately self-defeating.

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Hi!p I'm a .signature spread virus! Copy into your ~/.signature to help me
Hilp I'm .sign turepread virus! into your ~/.signature! help me! Copy
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