Subject: Re: IPL as a burden
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 15 Jan 2001 18:05:52 -0800

Manfred Schmid <> writes:

> > > I think, the obligation to pay a license fee is a legal obligation and
> > > not bound to any license keys. We could claim fees without any keys.
> > > Even if somebody (maybe us) took out the key algorithm and the software
> > > would run without any license keys, we would still be entitled to the
> > > fee.
> > 
> > That would violate OSD #7: no additional license may be required
> > beyond the open source license itself.
> > 
> Sorry, I do net get the point. All we need for claiming license fees is
> the IPL itself. If the software has some key algorithm or not. Lets
> assume, we do not use license keys and would leave the rest unchanged.
> Still we would claim fees lthough our legal position in court might be
> weaker, since we do not take "reasonable techniques" to prevent license
> fraud. That would not change a single thing from the basic contract
> which says: We provide the software, if you use it, you may be obliged
> to pay license fees.

I'm sorry, I was thinking that you were talking about using an open
source license, and then claiming license fees on top of that.  Now I
understand that you were just continuing your claim that requiring
license fees was compatible with open source.  That's interesting; I
don't see a clear statement in the OSD that recipients of a program be
permitted to run it.

Nevertheless, if the recipient of an open source program can not run
it without an additional license, where the license itself is the only
obstacle (that is, no other software is required, just the license
itself), I feel certain that that program is not actually open source.

> We propose a simple deal: 
> VShop3 will be made available in Source Code under IPL
> We give you (see
> - The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). 
> - The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs
> (freedom 1).
> - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
> (freedom 2). 
> - The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to
> the public, so that the whole community benefits. (freedom 3).  
> We will be happy to include any improvements. In contrast to standard
> proceedings, we are ready to pay for the work poured in.
> Freedom #0 may make our price list apply. But freedom is not about the
> price. Anyway, IPL states that it is even free of charge when you use it
> for your own purposes etc. (privately or publicly).
> Concerning Freedom #3 we are asking not to claim a removal of license
> information as an improvement.

If I want to run your program on several different computers, then
removing the license information is clearly an improvement for me.
With open source programs, you don't get to define what an improvement
is.  I do.

> I am well aware that we all are (supposedly) not lawyers. So lets not
> argue about the wording or the interpretation of some clauses. In my
> opinion, two questions have to be answered:
> - May we charge license fees for an Open Source Product? 

Yes, you may, but you may not require them.  If you do not permit
people to run the program without a license, then the program is not
open source.

> - May we take reasonable provisions for a legal defending of the Terms
> and Conditions of the license?

Yes, you may.  That does not affect whether the license is open source
or not.

> We do not want to start any religious wars or piss somebody off. We only
> want to take commercial Open Source Development one step further.

That one step is taking you out of the realm of open source.

> We honestly think that the combination IPL / Developer Program takes the
> spirit of the the Open Source Movement and adds an economic model, that
> is easy to understand. 

It's easy to understand.  It just isn't open source.  Call it
something else.

Again I refer you to the Bitkeeper license.  They went through all of
this over a year ago.  Their license is more liberal than yours--they
don't even require paying a fee--but the result is not open source.

I want to stress that I am not saying that you should not use the
license.  I am saying that you should not call this license ``open