IPL as a burden

Ben Tilly ben_tilly at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 16 15:32:16 UTC 2001

Manfred Schmid <mschmid at intradat.com> wrote:
> > I'm sorry, I was thinking that you were talking about using an open
> > source license, and then claiming license fees on top of that.  Now I
> > understand that you were just continuing your claim that requiring
> > license fees was compatible with open source.  That's interesting; I
> > don't see a clear statement in the OSD that recipients of a program be
> > permitted to run it.
> >
> > Nevertheless, if the recipient of an open source program can not run
> > it without an additional license, where the license itself is the only
> > obstacle (that is, no other software is required, just the license
> > itself), I feel certain that that program is not actually open source.
> >
>It is indeed interesting that GPL does not address the matter ofrunning
>a GPLed program. From a legal standpoint it might be interesting, if the
>OSD is an inegral part of GPL or not. From a non-legal standpoint I
>would argue that OSD #7 covers that matter.

The GPL does cover running the software.  In clause 0 I
see, "The act of running the Program is not restricted..."

>Still I do not see IPL being incompliant with the OSDs. we explicitely
>address the matter of running an IPLed program and state that license
>fees may apply.

I see it as being completely not compliant with both the
letter of the OSD and the intent.  You have been told in
no undertain terms (including by some of the people who
would actually make an official certification decision
- and no, I am not in that list) that any kind of
licensing fee or requirement for another license will
not fly.

>We do not feel that the license is an obstacle. Free Software mens free
>speach, not free beer (adopted from gnu.org)
>All you will have to do is pay the price asked for, if applicable.

The people you need to convince have told you that it is
an obstacle and they will not budge.  Indeed similar
issues have come up and their position is clear.  I have
given you fairly detailed explanations of where you are
going wrong.

> > If I want to run your program on several different computers, then
> > removing the license information is clearly an improvement for me.
> > With open source programs, you don't get to define what an improvement
> > is.  I do.
> >
>You do have to stick to the license terms and the definition of an
>improvement is not totally up to you.

Indeed you have to stick to license terms.  If you did
not then there would be no value in having a clear
definition of what software comes under license terms
that gives the end user protection from being caught at
some point by a legally enforced monopoly.  It is
exactly because you have to stick to license terms that
there is value to consumers in that.

The OSD is a commonly accepted definition of exactly
that.  Software which is delivered under an OSD
compatible license comes with a guarantee that there is
no legal barrier to having a free market for upgrades,
bug-fixes, training and support.  Whether or not there
will actually be a viable market in upgrades, bug-fixes,
training and support will depend on applicable free
market forces.  But no vendor has the ability to wave
around a legal document and run potential competition out
of town.

*ANY* licensing move that you make to guarantee yourself
the ability to restrict such competition means that the
customer no longer can count on that freedom.  Therefore
any such move should make it impossible to certify you
as having a license that offers such protection.

THAT is why your license is not open source.  It may well
be perfectly legal.  It just isn't an open source license.

(As an aside to anyone still reading, if my description is
in any way incorrect, please correct me.)

> > That one step is taking you out of the realm of open source.
>I still do not understand why that should be the case.

Please read my description of what the OSD certification
is supposed to mean, compare to what your license says,
and get back to me if you don't understand how your
license tries to remove protections that are key to being
an open source license.

> > I want to stress that I am not saying that you should not use the
> > license.  I am saying that you should not call this license ``open
> > source.''
> >
>Besides being able to "officially" call it Open Source and get the
>license approved, we think it is a good step to open the source and make
>it publicly available. We have thought a lot about it and feel it is the
>best for all the parties involved.

That is your decision, and there are good arguments which
may be made for doing that, even under a license that is
not open source.  However I note that experiments by Sun
and others to try and get developers to accept halfway
open license have generally failed abysmally.

>Still we would like to get approval.

That will not happen while your license fails to offer the
protections that OSD certification is supposed to provide.

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