[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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 
made available.

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.

/Anders Torger

Reply to: