Subject: DRAFT: OSL version 3.0
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 17:36:35 -0700

I read with great interest the "Report on Open Source Licensing of Software
Developed by The European Commission." [1] I was particularly pleased that
the authors suggested using a modified Open Software License (OSL) for the
EC's needs.

I agree with many of the report's suggestions for license changes to the OSL
and have created a draft of OSL version 3.0 incorporating much of the
proposed wording. Here is where you can find the latest draft:

You will, however, note a few differences from what was suggested:

* I believe my change to section 1(b) accomplishes what the report authors
wanted. I'm not entirely sure why they believe it is necessary, but anything
that clarifies what we mean by "derivative work" is probably useful. I
welcome a re-reading of that provision.

* I combined the proposed 1(c) and 1(d) into a single 1(c). 

* I did not add the provision in section 1 "To use the Original Work in any
circumstances and for all usage," because I believe that existing OSL
section 15 sufficient for that.

* I modified the proposed wording for section 9. I try very hard to avoid
technology-specific language in my licenses. 

* I did not agree to the proposal for section 11 ["Jurisdiction, Venue and
Governing Law"]. I am biased against any license language that is specific
to any country. Are we certain that it is necessary, for example, to even
mention Belgian law? I can see this section 11 quickly becoming a
hodge-podge of country-specific language that merely confuses everyone
involved. Frankly, instead of incorporating confusing wording specific to
their local laws, I'd rather tell these unique countries that they can't use
my open source software. To be fair, I am even willing to remove the
specific reference in that section to the U.S. Copyright Act if someone can
propose equally-understandable language.

* I am simultaneously proposing for public review revised wording for
section 6, ["Attribution Rights"], to satisfy the requirements of certain
open source businesses. This provision may itself be controversial. I
welcome your comments.

As to the ownership of the OSL license and the implicit request for
permission to modify it, I am reluctant to do so for a couple of reasons. 

First, everyone is complaining about license proliferation. If we can't
compromise on a license suitable around the world, we're going to place an
enormous burden on open source software sharing. That is why I would much
rather work with the community on a modified OSL that can satisfy everyone
rather than see a unique EUPL being submitted for approval. Indeed, if OSL
version 3.0 (as modified following community input) is favorably received,
we should probably request that OSI move the earlier versions of that
license to a less-favorable category of license and to recommend against
their continued use. 

Second, I am currently discussing with a respected non-profit organization
my assignment of copyright ownership to them. People are probably justified
in worrying about depending on any license that needs an individual's (or an
individual company's) personal approval before it is changed. My copyright
assignment to that non-profit organization is still under discussion and I
don't want to preannounce anything before they've had a chance to decide
whether they want the responsibility. But I reassure you that I am trying
hard to find a license steward who can guide this license through inevitable
revisions (like yours) to make it more universally applicable. In the
meantime, I'm not authorizing anyone else to make derivative works.

I look forward to hearing your reactions. Feel free to share this email and
proposal on discussion lists. Please communicate your thoughts directly to
me, or to OSI. 

Best regards, 

/Larry Rosen


Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (
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) 
   [Available also at]