Subject: Re: For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 24 Sep 2003 15:38:32 -0700

Sean Chittenden <> writes:

> The OSSAL is the most similar to the BSD license.  This is a
> derivative license in that it is modeled after the BSD license,
> however it prevents code or objects from being used by GPL'ed bits.
> The reason for these addions being that as a language author, I don't
> want any of the modules written by the open source community to be
> GPL'ed as GPL'ed modules are of no use to businesses and the language
> is centered around businesses that use and contribute open source
> code.

I'm sure you've heard it before, but I would encourage you to not use
such a license.  People generally choose a BSD-type license in order
to make the code as free as possible without actually disclaiming
copyright.  Making code as free as possible ought to include
permission to link it with GPL code.  Linking with GPL code does not
make the code any less free than linking with proprietary code and
distributing only binaries.

Your stated goal can be achieved simply by not accepting contributions
which are under the GPL.  As far as I can see, permitting other people
to distribute GPL contributions to your software does not reduce the
freedom of your end users in any way, since anybody is already
permitted to distribute contributions to your software without
providing source code at all.

That said, I don't see any reason why your license does not conform to
the OSD.

>     3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software
>        should, in good faith, display the following acknowledgment:
>     This product includes software developed by the <AUTHOR> and its contributors.
> Discussion: Non-legally binding clause that asks for recognition, but
> isn't required.

With regard to this clause, your discussion says that it does not
require recognition, but a plain reading of the clause is that
recognition is required if any features or use of the software are
mentioned.  Which is it?

>     4. Redistributions of source code may not be used in conjunction
>        with any software license that requires disclosure of source
>        code (ex: the GNU Public License, hereafter known as the GPL).

This is also not entirely clear.  Perhaps you mean something like
``this source code may not be relicensed under any software license
which requires disclosure of source code.''

>     5. Redistributions of source code in any non-textual form (i.e.
>        binary or object form, etc.) may not be linked to software that is
>        released with a license that requires disclosure of source code
>        (ex: the GPL).

This may preclude running the software on any system which uses glibc,
such as GNU/Linux.  Perhaps this is your intent.

This license raises the question of whether the OSI should
mechanically approve any license which meets the OSD, or whether the
OSI should apply other considerations as well.  If the OSI does not
approve licenses mechanically, then I would vote against approving
this license, as I believe it could tend to balkanize the open source
community rather than build it up.

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