Subject: Re: OVPL summary
From: Mitchell Baker <>
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 13:56:58 -0700


This is very helpful.  Larry, I didn't mean this as a question to you personally.  I meant it as a general question to the list because there does seem to be a growing consensus about the MPL which I think is probably incorrect.  I appreciate your response.   I'm sorry if this appeared to be personal, I didn't mean it that way at all.

As to substance, I continue to think there has been a giant disconnect here.  I appreciate Larry's help in sorting through this, and would appreciate any other clarity people can provide. 

Lawrence Rosen wrote:
The MPL expressly defines "Initial Developer" and "Contributor" in section
1.6 and 1.1, respectively. If there is no difference, why two definitions?
In large part that was to make sure that the Initial Developer made grants to the entire release it made, and the Contributors make grants with respect to their contributions; it was an attempt to make sure that a Contributor was required to make grants for the initial code release.     It was also intended to deal with a timing issue -- Contributors should make their IP grants when they use the code, not at the same date that the Initial Developer released it.

The Initial Developer is *also* a Contributor.  The Initial Developer creates Modifications just like anyone else, and every obligation of a Contributor  applies. 

Why all those extra sections that describe the rights and obligations of the
two in possibly different ways. This isn't just the duplication of sections
2.1 and 2.2. All of section 3 describes what a Contributor must do but
doesn't demand the same of the Initial Developer. Not that Mozilla or others
who use its license actually discriminate in practice, but the license does.
I admit I didn't compare those sections word for word; I must have assumed,
based on an earlier NPL license, that there were subtle "additional rights."
If I have been confused by this, I'm sure others are as well. I'm sorry if I
described your license unfairly.

If anyone else thinks there is some special rights for the Initial Developer I would love to hear it.   Perhaps there is a drafting error or something else I've missed.   If not, I would like to end the view that the MPL has special rights for the Initial Developer.

The Netscape license did have special rights for the initial developer.  I have a question about that, which I'll put in a separate email.

/Larry Rosen


From: Mitchell Baker [] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: OVPL summary

I would appreciate it if I could get a precise statement of what additional
rights the Initial Developer gets in the MPL.  I know there was a lot of
discussion about having Section 2.1 and 2.2, but I couldn't understand the
extra rights that the Initial Developer is supposed to get.  

I understand that Netscape got special rights under the Netscape Public
License, but still do not understand this discusison with relation to the
Mozilla Public License.  


Lawrence Rosen wrote: 

Mark Radcliffe wrote:


I agree that such differences in rights is not discrimination 

under the OSD. Many of the existing licenses are not 

perfectly recipricol. 


As Mark correctly says, many OSI-approved licenses, including the venerable

MPL and CPL licenses, are not perfectly reciprocal. They grant (or reserve)

some rights to an initial developer that other licensees don't have. If we

say that such licenses violate the OSD, we'd be forced to deprecate many

ancient and respected licenses. The OVPL goes farther than the others--and

some may want to amend the OSD to prevent this extreme--but under today's

OSD, I've told others privately, the OVPL should be approved. 

I've also told people privately that I don't like such special privileges in

open source licenses. I prefer equal reciprocity. Equal reciprocity was a

basic principle in drafting OSL 3.0, and its section 1(c) reciprocity

provision applies the exact same license terms to the original licensor and

any downstream distributors. That was on purpose.

Open source contributors may be reluctant to contribute to an OVPL project

owned by others. Many copyright owners of contributions either want to be

treated equally, or will negotiate special partnership arangements with

their up-stream licensors for consideration. I don't think they will

appreciate special rights built into the project's license. But that's a

marketing and public relations risk that OVPL licensors will be taking, not

an OSD compliance issue.

Unless the OSD is properly amended.

/Larry Rosen


-----Original Message-----

From: Radcliffe, Mark [] 

Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 9:47 AM

To: Chuck Swiger; Brian C


Subject: RE: OVPL summary

I agree that such differences in rights is not discrimination 

under the OSD. Many of the existing licenses are not 

perfectly recipricol. 

I would phrase it somewhat differently since droit de 

l'auteur is a right only in certain countries. As the 

copyright owner (generally the case), the initial developer 

has a complete set of rights only some of which are licensed 

under the license. The most practical effect of these rights 

is mentioned by Chuck, to license the work under a different 

license. On the other hand, all licensees will receive only 

the rights from the initial developer and other contributors 

under the license, so their rights by their very nature are 

more limited. 

-----Original Message-----

From: Chuck Swiger [] Sent: 

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 4:54 AM

To: Brian C


Subject: Re: OVPL summary

Brian C wrote:

[ ... ]


So perhaps the OVPL presents a more specific question to OSI: Is a 

license that grants greater rights to an initial developer than it 

grants to other licensees consistent with OSI's principles, in 

particular, does it constitute "discrimination against persons or



No.  The author of the software generally has significant 

additional rights on the original software beyond what a 

proposed license grants to other people, by virtue of common 

law where that applies ("droit d'auteur"), having the right 

to release under a different license, etc.

So long as people can continue to modify and redistribute the 

software openly, asking people who want to make proprietary 

modifications to grant the original developer the right to 

reuse and redistribute such modifications for themselves is 

OK.  However, part of granting full Open Source rights to 

everyone means that the software has to be feasible for 

others to redistribute, even if the original developer 

disagrees or no longer exists.

-- -Chuck



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