Subject: Re: For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 26 Sep 2003 08:53:54 -0700

Sean Chittenden <> writes:

> Businesses who create
> commercial, redistributed products, use (indeed prefer) BSD/MIT
> licensed software.

It would be nice if you could stop using the words ``business'' and
``commercial'' when you really mean ``businesses which use proprietary
software.''  As I and others have pointed out, there are many
businesses which sell commercial software based on the GPL.  I have
and do work for such businesses, so for me it is not an abstract
issue.  Yes, as you said the last time I mentioned this, there are of
course very many businesses which do not use the GPL.  But that does
not excuse your continuing misuse of language.

> > You say that the OSSAL explicitly permits proprietary forks, but the
> > BSD license does that as well.  The OSSAL prohibits something very
> > specific: if somebody takes code under license X, and takes GPL
> > code, and links them together, and distributes the result, that is
> > permitted if X is the BSD license, but prohibited if X is the OSSAL
> > license.
> Correct.  If someone needs some code that is only available under the
> GPL, then there exists the need for that code to be rewritten under a
> BSD/MIT license.

In other words, for your purposes, releasing the code under the GPL is
no different from releasing the code without sources.  This argument
against the GPL is just as strong as an argument against proprietary
release.  Actually, proprietary release is slightly worse, since at
least with a GPL release you can study the algorithms.

> > > It's useful if you're a business in that if you use OSSAL software
> > > in a product, you're never going to have to go back and rewrite
> > > that code that you depend on if the module author goes copyleft.
> > > In doing so, more businesses would likely use and contribute to
> > > Open Source.
> > 
> > When I read that statement it is clear to me that that is true of
> > the BSD license as well.  Can you please explain to me, in words of
> > one syllable and taking very slow steps, why it is not?
> Quid pro quo: three single syllable words that can both be said
> slowly, and do a halfway decent job of summarizing the OSSAL.  The
> BSD/MIT license (which I support enthusiastically), however, can
> almost be summarized as, quid pro throw (as in thrown into the abyss
> without any assurance for getting something usable back in return).

That reads nicely and yet completely fails to address my question.
Please try again.

> From a business's point of view, the BSD/MIT license is deficient in
> its ability to provide some form of quid pro quo for its efforts to
> release code into the wild while still preserving the ability for
> potential competitors to assimilate the code or any modifications made
> by the public.  The BSD/MIT licenses do not protect a business'
> ability to reap any kind of contributions in the form of usable
> intellectual property.  Non-feasance to address these issues by the
> authors of the BSD or MIT licenses doesn't preclude me from writing a
> BSD or MIT-like license that satisfies a business's needs.  Those
> opposing the OSSAL are arguing that a BSD or MIT license covers a
> business's basis, however it does not for the reasons stated above.

The real quid pro quo license is, of course, the GPL.  The arguments
you bring out here are the same arguments that businesses use when
they decide to release software under the GPL.

I'm starting to think that you are trolling.  Instead of answering the
questions which are asked, you keep reaching into your philosophy, and
into your notion of what businesses need.  If you are really trying to
communicate, then take a deep breath, sit back, and think about what
people are trying to say to you.

If you just want to have a ``GPL sucks'' license, then say so.  I'm
sure you can find plenty of people to support it.

license-discuss archive is at