OpenLDAP license

David Johnson david at
Tue Apr 10 00:18:22 UTC 2001

On Tuesday April 10 2001 05:05 am, Ryan S. Dancey wrote:

> It seems axiomatic to me that any license seeking to comply with the OSD
> must have explicit instructions detailing the responsibility of each party
> to the license (meaning anyone who distributes the software) to make the
> source available when they redistribute the code.

You are describing copyleft. Not all Open Source software (nor Free Software) 
is copyleft. Copyleft demands that all instances of the program be free/open 
by requiring the distribution of source code under certain conditions.

But other kinds of free/open software exists. The MIT, BSD, and presumable 
the OpenLDAP, licenses are what is known as "unrestricted" licenses. These 
licenses have no requirements that the source code be made available. Because 
of this, certain derivatives of these program might not be Open Source. But 
the status of a derivative does not affect the status of the original.

> The fact that numerous OSI approved licenses do not address this issue
> seems to me to be a fundamental failing on the part of the OSI
> certification process and indicates that a top-down review of the process
> and the standards of certification should be undertaken.

The purpose of the OSI is not to certify copyleft licenses, but licenses that 
grant the recipient certain rights and permissions.

> Either that, or the OSD should be modified by deleting Item #2 in its
> entirety.  It seems to me to be a binary choice:  Either #2 is enforced in
> the certification process, or it is removed from the definition.  Having it
> in the OSD, but not requiring OSI certified licenses to implement it's
> terms seems hypocritical.

That definition is indeed enforced, make no mistake. I think you are just 
misinterpreting it. 

> My opinion is that the OSD reflects the ethical position put forward by the
> champions of Free Software, and that it represents their intent as to what
> should and should not be considered "Open Source".

The FSF argues from an ethical position while the OSI argues from a pragmatic 
position. That their conclusions are the same is illustrative. If you wish to 
argue ethical positions, talk to the FSF. But you will quickly find that the 
FSF, RMS and the entire Free Software Movement (they spell is capitalized) 
agree that unrestricted licenses like MIT, BSD and Apache are indeed 100% 
Free Software licenses.

You'll find that the FSF does not argue in favor of copyleft on the basis of 
ethics, but rather on pragmatics. They may consider unrestricted licenses to 
be suboptimal, misguided, and even silly, but you will never hear them call 
unrestricted licenses unethical or immoral.

> Is Microsoft Windows open source?  If you're one of Microsoft's 1,000
> biggest customers, they'll give you the source code to Windows.  Sure, 60
> million people don't have the source, but some people do, and that seems
> sufficient to comply with this interpretation of OSD #2.

Windows is not Open Source, because even after you have paid the megabucks to 
get the source code, you still can distribute or modify it.

David Johnson

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