Subject: Re: OVPL summary
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 15 Sep 2005 15:50:39 -0700

Alex Bligh <> writes:

> > The case of private selective distribution is precisely the
> > interesting one here.  The GPL permits it.


> >  The OVPL arguably does not.
> Here's the phrase (same as CDDL and similar to MPL):
> 	Any Covered Software that You distribute or otherwise make
> 	available in Executable form must also be made available in Source
> 	Code form and that Source Code form must be distributed only under
> 	the terms of this License.
> That allows private distribution. However, if you distribute privately,
> the ID can request a copy of the modifications under 3.3, in which case
> they can use them ONLY if they publish them.
> So private distribution is not prohibited, it just may not remain private.

Private distribution that does not remain private is not private
distribution.  It's the same as public distribution.  Right?

Let me put it another way, in an attempt to make it clearer.  The GPL
guarantees the right of private distribution given mutual agreement
among all parties (and, yes, assuming that source is distributed with
the binaries).  The OVPL does not guarantee that right.

> My point was the OVPL does not prohibit private selective distribution.
> Just sometimes, what you distribute can be made public. The same as
> under the GPL (where you don't provide source at the same time).

But there is a qualitative difference between something becoming
public through the action of somebody in the group who received the
distribution, and something becoming public through the action of the

In particular, it would seem that the ID can go on a fishing
expedition and request a copy of something which has been privately
distributed even if the ID is only guessing that that has happened.

> However, the words you quoted don't do what you say they do. They say
> you can use/change things privately in your *OWN* work (no OVPL problem
> here), and if you publish your work, you don't have to notify anyone
> (the OVPL does not impose that obligation, even if you read 'publish'
> as 'distribute', at least in the general case - you merely need to
> respond to a request should it be issued - quite different from a
> notification requirement, and it can be obviated by making the
> work generally available).

For debating purposes, I concede on this point, although I think it
depends upon what is meant by "notify."  I believe that there is a
general expectation of privacy in free software, but it may not be
supported by those exact words.

But I think I am right that (1) free software includes the freedom of
privacy within a group, not just within a company, and (2) the OVPL
does not guarantee that freedom.

I accept that (1) is open to dispute, subject to a discussion with the
FSF, but I think we can all agree on (2).

And, for that matter, I think the OVPL is the only open source license
which does not guarantee that freedom, although, as I said already, I
don't think that freedom is part of the OSD.