Subject: Re: Can OSI specify that public domain is open source?
From: Chad Perrin <>
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 18:21:05 -0600
Wed, 7 Sep 2011 18:21:05 -0600
On Wed, Sep 07, 2011 at 05:20:20PM -0700, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Chad Perrin (
> > I'd say, rather, that it should be conditionally recognized as open
> > source -- under circumstances where it applies.  Otherwise, it looks to
> > me like you're setting a precedent for crypto software distributed under
> > the terms of an open source license should not be considered open source
> > simply because some countries prohibit the use of (strong) crypto.
> That boat sailed long ago.
> A reasonable functional definition of 'open source software' is
> 'software concerning which any recipient can exercise all the rights
> outlined in the Open Source Definition', OSD being an attempt to
> formally detail the common-sense notion of what it means for a codebase
> to be forkable, independently maintainable with the right to create and
> distribute derivative works, and to use it without impediment for any
> purpose.
> If local law prevents you from exercising those rights concerning a
> strong crypto codebase, then by a functional definition that codebase is
> (locally) not open source, irrespective if licensing and irrespective of
> source code availability.  Same principle applies for enforced patents
> and other legal impediments.

Other legal impediments . . . such as jurisdictional variance in legal
conditions of the public domain.

> If we'd have been holding this discussion before the RSA patent expired
> just a bit over 11 years ago, I'd have said that mod ssl was not open
> source in the USA, irrespective of its BSD licence.  (I'd have footnoted
> that, of course, like any self-respecting pedant.)

I'd have agreed -- but I'd also say that it *is* open source wherever the
license applied, but not the patent, just as I'd say that SQLite is open
source wherever its public domain status was accepted by law, but not
where it wasn't.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]

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