namespace protection compatible with the OSD?

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Sat Apr 21 16:40:20 UTC 2001

On Fri, 20 Apr 2001, Tom Hull wrote:
> After watching this argument roll around and around, it's tempting to just
> say "no". A "no" answer could be derived from any of the following:
>  1) If the API is not copyrightable and enforceable.

Conceded, it is in doubt whether the implementation is always a
derivative work of an API.

>  2) If the proposed copyright-based restrictions are contrary to the OSD.

I've not heard anyone claim this to be the case.  Which provision of the
OSD would it violate?

>  3) If the restrictions undermine its acceptance and usability.

yep, left to historians.

> > If the GPL's ethos is "access to source code is paramount",
> The key point is not just access to the source code: it is the right to
> modify the source code, to create something new from that, and the right
> to make those modifications available to others.

No.  To the author who places their work under the GPL, it's more
important that an author of a derived work also place their code under the
GPL (biggest practical impact: the author of the derived work has to
publish their modifications) than it is to have the rights you list above.
I.e., you do not have the right to modify/redistribute *unless* you also
publish under the GPL. The BSD license, on the other hand, grants broader
rights to modify/redistribute under the license of one's choosing, so long
as you follow a few procedural requirements.

> I think the right to modify an API is implicit in GPL.

No question.  The point I was making is that in the same way that the
GPL's main philosophical objective is to advocate the availability of
source code by placing requirements on derived works, another license may
have as its philosophical objective the advocacy of implementations
conformant to the APIs they claim to implement.


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