Subject: Re: Simple Public License, draft
From: Justin Wells <>
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 14:06:52 -0400

On Thu, Sep 02, 1999 at 01:56:38PM -0400, Chris F Clark wrote:

> I don't know if this will help, but the licenses I have seen with
> non-compete clauses say exactly what the user's aren't allowed to
> build.  If your tool is an "interpreter that runs servlets", then say
> the users aren't allowed to build "interpreters that run servlets"
> using your sources.  That should make it quite clear what competing
> software is.  If you have several things you want to list, how about
> using an appendix, and say the sources cannot be used to build the
> items listed in the appendix.
> Of course, the one thing I find complicating about this, is that you
> allow modifications in a previous paragraph.  It is not clear that the
> two paragraphs do not conflict.  Whie I understand that legally there
> may be a way of resolving that, as a naive user who wanted to make
> modifications, I would not know how to resolve that conflict, unless
> the license was more explicit as to which paragraph had precedence.

Hopefully there will be more discussion from Bruce and others on the 
non-compete idea, so I'll hold off discussing that until more people
have commented, and until he's got back from his conference and 
responded. Depending on his response, I may wind up rewriting that
section; and I may adopt exactly what you suggest: including more
specific language describing exactly what competes. 

It's important that it be easy to understand, since that's one of 
the main goals of writing this SPL thing in the first place.

As to the actual mechanism I used in this license, the key, I think,
is that the grant of basic rights reads like this:

  We grant you the above "basic rights" to our software, conditional
  upon your fulfilling your obligations under this license.

along with this earlier on:

  If you breach the terms of this license, and fail to cure the
  breach within thirty (30) days of becoming aware of it, then you
  must cease all use of our software, as your rights to use it are
  then terminated.

so you don't get those rights unless you agree to fulfill the 
obligations I list, and if you fail to fulfill them, you have to 
stop using the software. These obligations include that modified 
versions not be less free, and that (whether a modified version
or not) the software not be used to "compete" (whatever that ends
up meaning).