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Re: New OPL Draft

On Thu 27 Jan 2000 11:20:37 -0700,
   David Wiley <dw2@opencontent.org> enclosed the NEW OPL DRAFT:
> (f) clearly indicate in the Derivative Work which parts have been modified
> or altered.
> 2.  If you distribute the Work, in any format or medium, now known or
> hereafter known, you should:
> (a)  provide e-mail notification to the authors and publisher of your intent
> to redistribute at least thirty days before your manuscript or media
> freeze, to give the authors time to provide updated documents. This
> notification should describe modifications, if any, made, or to be made,
> to the Work.
> (b)  offer a free copy of the redistributed Work to its author(s).

These clauses were changed from "Good-Practice Recommendations" (in
http://opencontent.org/openpub/) to requirements in the "NEW OPL DRAFT".

IV.2(a) and IV.2(b) seem to assume that there will always be one "gold
standard" author or publisher of a work, and that that entity will be easy
to locate.  The reality in the Open Source arena is that authors often pass
on responsibility for their code, so that there are often many successive
authors for a project (there also may be many concurrent authors of a
project).  Is your intention that I contact _every_ author 30 days before I
make a derivative work?  After 3-5 years, many of those authors will be
difficult to find (we see this in the (< 10 year old) Linux community now).
Further, many of the early authors won't care any more.  I've passed on
programs that I've written to others for maintenance and I don't want to
get email about those programs, and I don't want people sending me copies
of new versions -- if I still want to be involved, I'll join the mailing
list or go to the web site.

One of the most wonderful things about Open Source licenses is that you
never have to try to contact the original author before or after you use

Another wonderful thing about (most) Open Source licenses is that you don't
have to include diffs or detailed comments on changes (to satisfy IV.1(f)?)
-- if anyone is curious about the changes, they can get the original work
and make their own comparison.  Further, making these notations "in the
Derivative" work may be prohibitive (do you have to annotate every spelling
correction?  would diffs even satisfy IV.1(f)?  what if you changed the
formatting so that diff doesn't work any more (i.e., diff includes a copy
of the old work followed by a copy of the new work -- does that still
"clearly indicate" how the work was changed?).

I recommend removing these clauses from the body of the license and
including an optional "Good Practice" section (or yet another license
option) that people are free to ignore (and authors are free to not

[It may be helpful to name the OPL derivatives as OPL, OPL+NoMods,
OPL+NoBooks, OPL+ContactAuthorBeforeUse, OPL+PublisherNameInLargeType.
Then you don't have to remember what a VPL is, and you don't have to invent
a new TLA every time you add an option.  Combinations of options have
obvious names, too.]

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