Common Public License (IBM)

John Cowan jcowan at
Thu Jan 25 18:44:15 UTC 2001

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:

> It might be helpful when posting licenses to state what the goal is in using
> this type of license rather than a license already approved (or already
> submitted under a different name). If this license is identical to the IBM
> Public License except for dropping a direct reference to "IBM," then I am
> puzzled why they would submit this one.

Presumably so that other people than IBM can use it without problem.
This has to do with the annoying problem of meta-licenses, or the
copyright license applicable to the license itself.

The meta-license for the GNU GPL for example, allows copying but
not changing, but the GPL fortunately does not have the name of the
FSF anywhere in it.  The MPL has an explicit meta-license that allows
you to change the name of the Original Contributor.  The BSD licenses
are in the form of boilerplate, allowing you to substitute your name.

But most of the corporate licenses have the name of the issuing
corporation hard-wired into them, and the implicit meta-license is "all
rights reserved", preventing them from being re-used by others.

I commend IBM for taking the trouble to create a version
of the IBMPL that can be used by any copyright holder.
OSI should fast-track its approval.

There is / one art             || John Cowan <jcowan at>
no more / no less              ||
to do / all things             ||
with art- / lessness           \\ -- Piet Hein

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