Subject: Re: Questions to OSI Board quorum
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 14:56:21 -0500

David Ryan writes:
 > I hope these can be answered at the next board meeting (which I
 > believe is later this week).

We haven't been able to stick to any fixed meeting schedule with the

 > Question 1)  Can the board be more clear in describing how the OVPL 
 > descriminates?

The OVPL discriminates against anybody who wants to fork the code.
Code forking is like the USA's Second Amendment.  Only a few enthusiasts
actually WANT to own a gun, but everybody wants to be FREE to own
one.  Similarly, nobody WANTS to fork, but everybody needs to be FREE
to fork code.  If I fork your OVPL code, I must forever grant you a
license to my code.

 > It is very important that I and others developing licenses have a clear 
 > understanding of how the OVPL descriminates.  This will ensure that 
 > future applications for approval will not make the same mistake.  The 
 > current response is that "parties can never be an 'Original 
 > Contributor'".  This is true of many licenses.  Take for example the 
 > GPL.  No contributor can ever be an 'Original Contributor'.  The OVPL 
 > allows any person or group to take the source code and distribute it 
 > under the same terms as many other licenses.

Under the GPL I am not obligated to license my modifications to one
particular party.  Under the OVPL, there is forever one Original
Contributor who gets a license to any and all modifications.

 > Question 2) Would a license which requires all contributions to be 
 > licensed uner a BSD style license still be deemed descriminatory?

Probably not, because anybody could then do what they wanted with them.
The Apache license does something like this, but it's not a reciprocal
license, requiring all modifications to be contributed.

 > However once again the contributor can never be an 'Original
 > Contributor'.

It's not the existance of an Original Contributor.  Many licenses name
one such.  It's the rights granted to the contributor.  For example,
the OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0 require that the Original Contributor be
attributed.  That doesn't discriminate against any subsequent
contributor, because they can add their own Attribution Notice.

 > It is clear that Trolltech no longer require the QPL.  They now supply 
 > all open source versions of their tools using the GPL.  I see no reason 
 > why the board should not remove the QPL from the list of approved licenses.

We can never remove a license from the list of approved licenses.  If
we did so, we might turn a licensor into an involuntary innocent
infringer of OSI's Open Source trademark.  To retain ownership of a
trademark, you must exercise control over the quality of the product.
If we did something which predictably gave us less control, that
wouldn't go over well in front of a judge.

 > Question 4) The decision not to approve the OVPL makes it clear that the 
 > OSI believe all developers should have equal rights to the "code 
 > commons" they contribute.  To contribute to many commercial open source 
 > projects requires that a developer sign a "copyright assignment".  Does 
 > the OSI board believe that these practices are descrimantory? If not, 
 > why not?

Such a *practice* could discriminatory, sure.  If you don't like it,
then fork the project and accept contributions using some different
contribution agreement.

 > While these companies do not use the license to create inequality
 > between contributors and themselves, they are using other methods
 > to ensure inequality.

True.  We cannot control those other methods.  They are inherent in
copyright law.

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