Re: Is OSL 2.0 compliant with DFSG?
On Saturday 10 April 2004 15.44, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> > For the question in the subject line: I still think that OSL 2.0 is
> > not DFSG-free because it terminates copyright permission for any
> > software patent action, including ones unrelated to the covered
> > software. The Licensor is also free to initiate patent actions
> > against the Licensee and this seems to hinder the Licensee's
> > defence. I see this as a type of bad termination clause, which
> > wouldn't be tolerated for copyrights alone.
> There are other problems as well. Besides the patent clause:
> #5 places a distribution-like burden on certain types of use (e.g.,
> use as part of a web server and you must distribute source).
I thought this was no different than from the GPL, it is just more
clearly stated here in the OSL. But perhaps I am wrong?
The idea is that you can modify source code and make derivative works,
and you do not need to release the source code as long as you do not
deploy the software externally. That is, you can use OSL software with
proprietary modifications internally in your company without releasing
the source to the public, as long as the software is not made available
to the public. Releasing binaries to the public, or making the user
interface to the software available through a public web server is two
ways of making the software public, and then the source must indeed be
If I remember correctly, this is also FSF's view of the GPL. It's a gray
area of GPL, which has been made clearer in OSL.
> #9 (the clickwrap bit) requires you to get agreement to the clickwrap
> in order to distribute. E.g., no ftp distribution.
I guess you mean no ftp distribution without "click here to accept this
terms"-kind of login, which you get on more or less all support FTPs
As I see it, this #9 is a sort of belt-and-braces clause which is more
or less redundant. The traditional way of distributing GPL software,
that is with a simple license file in the .tar.gz is not enough for
"forcing" the user to accept the license agreement before using the
software. That is, you as the licensor cannot say that a user of the
software has accepted the license agreement.
Many has said that because of this, GPL is not enforcable in most
software packages, since they do not have click-wrap installation
OSL takes care of this problem, and puts the responsibility on the
distributor. I think it would be better to have it on the software
author instead though (having y/n license agreement question
on ./configure or make or similar).
However, now to the important point here, since GPL and OSL gives the
user more rights than she/he would have if the license is not accepted,
click-wrap is only a theoretical problem. People know default copyright
law well enough that they would look for the LICENSE file if they would
do anything that would violate the default copyright. Thus, I think "a
reasonable effort under the circumstances to obtain the express assent
of receipients" would simply to have the LICENSE in the archive which
is downloaded from the FTP.
I'm trying to say that doing nothing is doing enough. That is what GPL
advocates always has said. If #9 in OSL has actual relevance, today's
distribution must be reconsidered, and click-wrap procedures must be
provided for GPL software as well, perhaps by a click-wrap step in
I would like to hear from an OSL advocate the views on this clause.
And a comment on #10, the patent action clause. I think DFSG should be
changed if necessary to allow these kind of clauses. The clause does
not discriminate anyone, it is just a small protection against the
largest threat against free software there is -- software patents.
Nearly all commercial licenses have these type of clauses.
Personally, I'd like to see extended defense clauses. It would be ideal
if large projects such as the Linux kernel would have a license that
could fight back. I would like to see automatic termination of the
license for SCO type of behaviours. Patent super powers like IBM can
find patent infringement in nearly any software, it is just a matter if
they see a gain of attacking or not.
And to a final question, if I change the license to OSL for my software,
can it then no longer be distributed with Debian? If so, I may
reconsider my decision.