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Re: OpenCascade license opinion

On 20/12/2007, Francesco Poli <frx@firenze.linux.it> wrote:
> 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.

I don't think there's a problem with making the licence binding on
users or downloaders. Quite the contrary: someone who uses or
downloads the software is performing an "act restricted by the
copyright" for which a licence is required. And to paraphrase GPL v.2:
if you don't like this licence, there ain't another one you can rely

> On the other hand, there's more than copyright in the license text:
> patents and other unspecified rights.

Quite. The use of the term "Applicable Intellectual Property Rights"
is not terribly helpful. I don't think it makes the licence non-free,
but it could cause problems if (for example) the term were regarded as
including trade mark rights, say.

> | 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*.

I don't think that is what the licence says. It may possibly be what
Open CASCADE intend (given their track-record on the preamble). ;-)

If you make modifications, those are licensed "under the terms and
conditions of ***this License***" (i.e. the same licence that you are
relying on for your own use of the software). There is nothing in
clause 14 that allows your licensees to change the terms on which your
changes are licensed to them - clause 14 just says that if Open
CASCADE change the licence for their own code, then you have a choice
as to which licence you rely on as regards that code. You do not have
that choice as regards code written by others - you have to continue
to rely on the licence under which they released that code.

So clause 14 is about extending the choices available to users, not
making the "share-alike" licence terms unpredictable for developers.

And just to return to clause 5, a lightbulb just went off over my
head. Clause 5 reads as follows:

| You hereby grant all Contributors and anyone who becomes a party
| under this License a world-wide, non-exclusive, royalty-free and
| irrevocable license under the Applicable Intellectual Property
| Rights owned or controlled by You, to use, reproduce, modify,
| distribute and sublicense all Your Modifications under the terms and
| conditions of this License.

This is probably what Open CASCADE are relying on for their "return to
upstream" comment in the preamble. GPL only requires a "share-alike"
licence back to the original author where you distribute (or "convey",
in v.3) your modifications to others. So Open CASCADE goes further
than this - if you modify the software, those modifications are
automatically licensed back to Open CASCADE.

***However***, there is no express provision requiring you to give
them a copy of the modifications, and I'd be surprised if any legal
system ***implied*** an obligation on the licensors of software to
supply copies of the licensed software to its licensees.

So I think that is why Open CASCADE *think* people have to send them
their modifications, but my view remains that the licence terms
themselves do not in fact require this, and hence the licence is not



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