Subject: Re: Questions to OSI Board quorum
From: David Barrett <>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 12:51:37 -0800

This email is excellent and clarifies a lot for me.  Thanks, Russell.

David/Alex, are you open to re-submitting the OVPL with changes?

Russell Nelson wrote:
> 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.