Subject: Re: Open Source and Contributor Agreements
From: Chris Zumbrunn <>
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2005 09:34:53 +0100

On Nov 27, 2005, at 5:44 AM, David Barrett wrote:

> Ok, so the tally I see is as follows (N=clear no, n=probable no,
> .=unknown, y=probable yes, Y=definite yes):
>          1  2  3  4  5
>          -  -  -  -  -
> Matthew  y  Y  N  n  N
>     Ben  N  Y  n  n  Y
>   Brian  Y  N  N  N  N
>   Chris  y  y  N  N  N
>    Alex  N  .  .  .  N
>     Ian  N  N  .  n  n
>   Simon  N  N  N  N  n
>   Chuck  .  N  .  .  .
> So it looks like Matthew, Ben, and Chris vaguely agreed with a couple
> points, but everyone else rejected the argument entirely.

I should have started replies 1) and 2) with a "No." - they were 
intended to be read that way.


> Chris writes:
>> No. If it requires a license-back that goes beyond the license-grant 
>> then it is discriminatory and does not comply with the OSD.
> I don't totally follow this.  Given that the license-back is entirely
> optional, and that you can put any (or no) name in the blank, I don't
> see how the license discriminates.  At *worst* it allows anyone to
> redistribute the code in a form that *slightly* favors them by putting
> their name in the blank.  But the license itself favors nobody in
> particular, and anyone can equally take advantage of this capability by
> simply putting their name in the blank (or replacing the name that's 
> currently in the blank).  It's just a default; nothing more.

If you make the license-back *optional*, then it doesn't need to be 
part of the OSI certified license - you can make it an add-on or 

> Alex writes:
>> No [it's not acceptable], for the above reason [violates right to 
>> fork]. And because what people objected to about the OVPL was 
>> asymmetry. Opt-out asymmetry is still asymmetry (I agree with that 
>> one whole heartedly). And opt-out can itself be a pernicious (see, 
>> for instance, spam discussions ad-nauseam).
> First, unlike the OVPL (which mandated license back, and thus violated
> the right to fork) making it optional preserves the right entirely.

I don't believe the license-back is the problem. The asymmetry is the 

> Second, as for asymmetry, I'll grant it's nonzero -- when I give you
> code, I can make it easier for you to grant me the license back than to
> anyone else.  But the asymmetry is so slight (and so easily overcome --
> just change a single line before redistributing) that the OSI would 
> need
> to blanket ban all optional provisions.

If you are right, it makes the approval of such a license a pointless 
You do not yet seem to understand what the problematic asymmetry is. It 
is not
the license-back per se that creates the asymmetry. The asymmetrie is 
in the
difference between the rights you grant and the license-back you 
require. You
do not allow proprietary derivative works, but you require a 
license-back that
allows you to create proprietary derivative works. That violates the 

> So given all this, can you provide a clear argument for why an opt-out 
> integrated contributor agreements violates the OSD, or violates some 
> unstated "openness" criterion?

See above.
If it is "optional", you can add it to the license, it doesn't need to 
be part of it.
If it is not "optional" then it must not be asymmetrical.