OpenLDAP license

Ryan S. Dancey ryand at
Fri Apr 13 18:14:19 UTC 2001

From: "David Johnson" <david at>

> > If the OSI decides to focus on licenses, I suggest that it will find the
> > BSD does not encapsulate enough of the OSD to guarantee the rights the
> > seeks to enumerate.
> ??? But the BSD license *does* encapsulate all of these rights.

Let's take the OSD from the top.

#1:  BSD complies
#2:  BSD is mute.  It does not encapsulate any portion of #2.
#3:  BSD complies, but is weak because it does not use a copyleft mechanism
to require that the right to make derived works to be carried forward to
each recipient.  In other words, I can take a work using the BSD, add a
modification, but restrict the right to make further modifications of my
modification.  The BSD does not require me to license my modifications using
the BSD.

[ as a side note, I think this is one of the places where the OSD itself is
flawed.  The language of #2 should say, in my opinion:  "The license must
allow modifications and derived works, and must REQUIRE them to be
distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software." ]

#4:  BSD complies
#5:  BSD complies
#6:  BSD complies
#7:  BSD does not comply. (BSD code could be distributed in binary-only form
with completely different and more restrictive licensing terms than the
#8:  BSD complies
#9:  BSD complies

> So would a license that said in effect "zero restrictions, period".

Such a license would have some of the same problems the BSD has.

> Licenses by themselves are absolutely meaningless, in the same way
> that deeds to property are meaningless without the property.

The rights enumerated by the OSD can be secured for the public only by using
a copyright license, because the default status of a work fixed in a
tangible form in countries signatory to the Berne convention is "restricted
by copyright".  Because that is the legal default, the >license< must
encapsulate the OSD.  Otherwise, the fallback position is into a
rights-limited strict copyright hostile to the ethical framework of the OSD.

> The term "Open Source", applied as an attribute of software, means that
> software generally follows the criteria set forth in the OSD.

Unfortunately, it does not.  The definition of the term is subjective, not
definitive.  That's why "OSI Certified" is important.

> And since I use the BSD license myself, I will have to object to any
> that removes that license from OSI Certification.

Why?  OSI Certification doesn't determine if your individual distribution is
"open source" or not.  Only the recipients of your work can make that
determination.  If you think it's important to the recipients of your work
that the OSI certifies your release, then you should use a license which
encapsulates the OSD.

If the BSD is found not to sufficiently encapsulate the OSD (and in my
opinion it does not), then the OSI should not certify it.  Otherwise, in my
opinion, the certification is essentially meaningless.  OSI Certification
should mean "the rights granted to you WILL comply with the OSD."  Not "MAY"
comply with the OSD.


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