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Re: OpenCascade license opinion



On Wed, 19 Dec 2007 11:53:29 -0500 Adam C Powell IV wrote:

> Greetings,

Hello! :)

> 
> I just sent in an RFP for Salomé, a very nice and highly capable
> engineering tool under LGPL.

As a personal note, I can say that Salomé looks like a pretty
interesting tool: I already knew about it (even though I haven't found
the time to give it a try, yet...).
For anyone interested in further details, the website is
http://www.salome-platform.org/
and the RFP bug is #457075.

> 
> It depends on OpenCascade, which has a license which sounds DFSG-free.
> The license is at: http://www.opencascade.org/occ/license/
> 
> There were two discussions on the OpenCascade license last year:
> 
>       * http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2006/06/msg00222.html
>         concluded: the "In short" preamble description is not free,
>         but the license itself is, so an upstream declaration that the
>         preamble is not binding would make it DFSG-free.

Firstoff, do these conclusions still hold?

I noticed that at http://www.opencascade.org/occ/license/ there's a new
license version identified as 6.2 and dated March, 2007.
However, a wdiff run between the license text discussed in the
above-cited thread and the current license text reveals very few
differences:

 - version and date
 - some cosmetic fixes
 - address of Open CASCADE S.A.S

Hence, I would say that the debian-legal analysis in the above-cited
thread may be applied to the current license text, with the same
conclusions.


In addition to those conclusions, I would however like to make the
following comments.


The untitled section (shall we call it "section 0" ?) states, in part:

| Please read this license carefully and completely before downloading
| this software. By downloading, using, modifying, distributing and
| sublicensing this software, you indicate your acceptance to be bound
| by the terms and conditions of this license. If you do not want to
| accept or cannot accept for any reasons the terms and conditions of
| this license, please do not download or use in any manner this
| software.

This clause attempts to make the license legally binding even to people
who merely use or download the software (sections 2, 3, and 13 restate
the same concept).
This goes beyond what copyright laws (at least in some jurisdictions)
allow copyright holders to do, if I understand correctly.
On the other hand, there's more than copyright in the license text:
patents and other unspecified rights.
Any comment on this (especially from real lawyers) is appreciated.


Section 14 states:

| The Initial Developer may publish new versions of this License from
| time to time. Once Original Code has been published under a particular
| version of this License, You may choose to continue to use it under
| the terms and conditions of that version or use the Original Code
| under the terms of any subsequent version of this License published by
| the Initial Developer.

This is a mandatory license upgrade mechanism.  Here "mandatory" means
that, when I release a contribution under the terms of this license, I
cannot choose version 6.2 only: I am forced to also grant permissions
under any subsequent version of the license published by Open CASCADE
S.A.S, even though *I am not yet able to see which terms those
subsequent versions will possibly include*.
Compare this with the GNU GPL "or later" mechanism, where I am allowed
to license under GPLv2 only and no one compels me to license my
contributions under yet unknown terms.
I don't think that this is a DFSG-freeness issue.  Nonetheless, it
greatly weakens the copyleft, is kinda scary and is enough to discourage
me from contributing in any way to Open CASCADE.


[...]
> Thanks for any help you can provide,

You're welcome!  ;-)

> and please CC me on replies.

Done.


My standardized disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.


-- 
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