The Invisible Hand

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Oct 2 15:37:16 UTC 2001

John Cowan writes:
 > As for your second point, it is also quite unclear from the license,
 > at least to me (IANAL), just who it is that has the burden of persuasion
 > on the subject of Deployment.  Must Apple prove that my use was
 > commercial, or is it up to me to prove that it was not?


 > > Many of the OSI Certified Open Source Software licenses impose a cost
 > > on a contributor.  Some contributors may decide that the cost is too
 > > high.  If so, that is their decision.  I don't think there's anything
 > > in the Open Source Definition which says that making and/or
 > > distributing modifications must not be inconvenient for anyone.
 > I was under the impression that OSI had rejected licenses that required
 > all modifications to be reported (as opposed to published) to the
 > original author, precisely on grounds of onerousness to people like
 > the makers of distros.  There does not seem to be any list of
 > rejected licenses anywhere, so I can't check this.

No, that's not why we rejected the Bitkeeper License.  We rejected it
because it said that some modifications (specifically, to remove the
code which published modifications on a public Bitkeeper) were not
allowed.  An Open Source license must allow all modifications.
Further, that code was there to enforce use, not copying.  The license
said that people who did not disclose their source code could not use
the software.  An Open Source license must not put any restrictions on 

 > > Nor
 > > do I think the OSD needs something like that.  If it did, then the GPL
 > > wouldn't pass the bar, with its requirement for three years of source
 > > distribution.
 > Source distribution *to those who have received the binary from you*,
 > not to the world at large.

It is nonetheless a cost.  The four-clause BSD license requires you to
dedicate a portion of advertising to disclosing the origin of your

-russ nelson <sig at>
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