Subject: RE: Change ot topic, back to OVPL
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 17:25:36 -0700


If you want to distinguish the OVPL from the OSL, at least be careful about
these two points:

1) The OSL is a license, not a contract. If you want a contract out of the
OSL or the OVPL or any other license, you generally need to get assent.
That's what turns it into a contract. So don't distinguish the OSL from
other licenses on that basis. Any license without assent is probably just a
bare license.

2) Defining the term "distribution" is nowadays essential, for the very
reasons you describe. That is why the OSL, in section 5, defines that term
so as to include the concept of "external deployment." But it is *external*
and not *internal* deployment that counts. Does the OVPL maintain that

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alex Bligh [] 
> Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 4:53 PM
> To:; 'David Barrett'; 
> Cc: Alex Bligh
> Subject: RE: Change ot topic, back to OVPL
> Larry,
> --On 24 August 2005 16:39 -0700 Lawrence Rosen 
> <> wrote:
> > The confusion about this point is not surprising. Many licenses are 
> > ambiguous or don't address the topic at all. But I know of licenses 
> > that were rejected by OSI because they tried to reach to licensees' 
> > internal activities.
> I should have addressed the substantive point too. I know (or 
> rather hope) I am preaching to the choir here.
> The question most people ask with the (imaginary) Foo license 
> that imposes obligation X on the licensee who distributes the 
> software is "what happens if I put it on my internal FTP 
> server". By this, they mean "I, P an am employee of 
> organization Q, I downloaded something licensed under the Foo 
> license, and want to know what happens if other employee R 
> has a copy of my modifications - does obligation X apply?"
> It seems to me the first question here is "who is the 
> licensee?". It seems to me that in the general case, the 
> answer here is Q. In which case there is no real distribution 
> when the above happens, as both P and R are acting as agents, 
> and on the authority of Q.
> This isn't only an issue for the OVPL, this is an issue for 
> any license (who forms the contract, in the above example, in 
> the OSL). Furthermore, well written licenses only apply 
> obligation X on some other party's request. IE noone has to 
> do anything until asked. Example: under the GPL, if Q mails 
> an executable to R, the rather uninteresting question as to 
> whether this is distribution does not arise unless and until 
> someone with locus standi asks which limb of clause 3 
> applies. As (in general) noone does, then (in general) noone 
> cares what the answer to the angels-on-pinheads problem above is.
> I don't think the OVPL is anything special here.
> Alex