[Approval request] CMGPL licence

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Wed Nov 7 21:08:26 UTC 2001

on Wed, Nov 07, 2001 at 07:45:57PM +0100, Marcel van der Boom (marcel at hsdev.com) wrote:
> Hi,

First:  when posting to this list on a new topic, *don't* reply to an
existing post.  Threading mailers will make it appear as if your post is
part of that thread.

> I would like to have our CMGPL license approved by the OSI.
> As per your instructions the following info:
> 1. HTML page
> ============
> License can be found at http://www.hsdev.com/cmgpl.html Format is plain
> makeinfo html output.
> 2. Existing license relation
> ============================
> The CMGPL is an slight adaptation of the GPL to suit it better to our 
> business needs. Notably the following changes were made (cosmetic 
> changes not included)

Comments regarding copyright of GPL noted.

> - deleted the preamble, we will inform our customers in other ways, we 
>   feel the license is the wrong place to do this.
> - Changed section 3 first paragraph from
>       ...Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the
>       following:...
> to
>       ...Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do at least one
>       of the following:...
> -deleted Section 3c

> - in the appendix deleted the following text.

>     "This General Public License does not permit incorporating your
>     program into proprietary programs.  If your program is a
>     subroutine library, you may consider it more useful to permit
>     linking proprietary applications with the library.  If this is
>     what you want to do, use the GNU Library General Public License
>     instead of this License"

I have to ask *why* you are doing this.  There are several serious
problems, both legal and strategic:

  - The changes appear to be largely gratuitous, in particular the
    deletions from the preamble and appendix which don't effect the
    legal force of the license, but do effect compatibility with GPLd

  - The "do one" "do at least one" is similarly minor.

  - The 3c alternative is significant for non-commercial distributors of
    software.  It makes it possible for small third parties to
    distribute GPLd software with few liabilities.  Note that the 3(b)
    obligation would otherwise hold, which creates an obligation *to any
    third party*.

The strategic implications are more disturbing.

  - The GNU GPL and LGPL (which is covertible to GPL) cover about 85% of
    all free software.  I disagree strongly with your statement that
    they are not well understood, and in particular with your
    implication that your minority license would be more readily
    understood.  There are some areas of dispute regarding the GPL, but
    its general terms and mechinations are widely and deeply understood.

  - Above and beyond the GPL, licenses covering another 10-15% of free
    software are GPL compatible.  Your license would not be.  From a
    code transitivity standpoint, you're locking yourself *out* of a
    codebase shared among 95% of free software projects.  This loses a
    signficant advantage of free software.

  - The licensing process is long and expensive.  If you are to rewrite
    a license from scratch, you are in all likelihood, today, two to
    three years from OSI's final decision, which may well be rejection.
    A ground-up rewrite of the GPL is going to take you six to twelve
    months with your business partners, major customers, and lawyer(s),
    over multiple iterations of your license.  OSI approval may take
    another several months to a year.  Following this, you need to
    convince free software users and developers that your license is
    acceptable to them.  The OSI's impramateur will help, but by no
    means assures this.  Licensing is a very conservative process.

    With the exception of Netscape, and minor (authorship, trademark)
    modifications of the BSD license, I've only seen very large
    corporations present their own versions of free software licenses
    with anything remotely resembling success, and each has rewritten
    their offerings several times, most over the course of a year or
    more.  Even in these cases, the final product has very often tended
    toward an established licensing model, of which there are
    principally three:

      - Copyleft (of varying strengths):  GNU GPL, LGPL.
      - Technology/standards license:  MIT, BSD, Apache.
      - Core+ licenses, allowing for proprietary modules:  MozPL, IBM

  - By contrast, selecting an existing license (or set of licenses)
    reduces your cycle time to that required by the internal
    decisionmaking process of your organization.

I'd strongly encourage you to evaluate and identify your objectives, and
consider your licensing strategy.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>       http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?             Home of the brave
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/                   Land of the free
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Geek for Hire                     http://kmself.home.netcom.com/resume.html
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