Section 2 source distribution terms (was Re: GPL vs APSL (was: YAPL is bad))
Karsten M. Self
kmself at ix.netcom.com
Wed Sep 26 06:44:30 UTC 2001
on Wed, Sep 26, 2001 at 12:53:26AM -0400, Russell Nelson (nelson at crynwr.com) wrote:
> Karsten M. Self writes:
> > Proposed language:
> > 2. Source Code
> > The license most provide for distribution in source code as
> > well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not
> > distributed with source code, there must be a well publicized
> > means of obtaining the source code for no more than a
> > reasonable reproduction cost -- preferably, downloading via the
> > Internet without charge or access restrictions. The source
> > code so offered must be in the preferred form in which a
> > programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated
> > source code does not qualify. Intermediate forms such as the
> > output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed. For
> > licenses in which distribution without source is allowed, an
> > OSD Qualifying Distribution shall be defined as an offering of
> > the software, under qualifying license terms, with source or an
> > offer of source as described in this paragraph.
> Good. Close. Better than my previous attempt. What do you think of
I think we may be carrying baggage of existing verbiage and not be
thinking to effects.
> 2. Source Code
> The license applies to source code. A compiled executable is
> considered a derived work.
Already the case under US copyright law. No need to restate.
> Such an executable is only open source if its source code is also
> open source.
This is certifying behavior, not a license.
> When a compiled executable is not distributed with source code,
> there must be a well publicized means of obtaining the source code
> for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost -- preferably,
> downloading via the Internet without charge or access
IMO "means of obtaining" can be interpreted (as I've posted elsewhere)
to mean "without restrictions". As distribution obligations of some
licenses (e.g.: the GPL) don't require general public distribution of
source, access restrictions may be permissible. Note that the 3(b) and
(c) source distribution clauses of the GPL (which could include Internet
distribution) *do* call for "any third party" obligations. Note too
that one possible revision of the GPL would require that 3(b)
obligations be met through physical media, rather than network access,
> The source code so offered must be in the preferred form in which
> a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated
> source code does not qualify. Intermediate forms such as the
> output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.
I'd move this up in the definition.
Let's think of what we're trying to do:
- Ensure that sources are distributable.
- Define "sources" roughly as "preferred form for making
modifications". Distinctions such as compiled, etc., may or may not
be appropriate. As the OSD is a guide, not a contract, strict legal
definitions aren't required, but clarity should be a goal.
- Allow for disjoint distribution. That is, distribution of preferred
form (source) independently from executable form, e.g.: by
downloading from a website, is acceptable.
- Realize that we're certifying licenses, not actions. I didn't like
my "OSD Qualifying Distribution" language when I wrote it, and I
like it less now. The distinction I think I was heading at was...
- It is the distribution of source under a given license that
satisfies source distribution obligation. To this extent, the OSD
has to decide if it's referring to licenses, in which case the
license must allow for distributing source, but not require it; or
if it applies to behavior, in which case it's no longer strictly a
certifying mark applied to licenses.
Again, the OSD/DFSG conflicts are tripping us up. Either the definition
must be contextual to actions, or language should be added to clarify
how a certified license must be used to satisfy the source distribution
requirement (or how it may be possible to thwart the source distribution
requirement even while using a certified license). As I don't believe
the OSI has the will (or means) to be a cop, I'd suggest the latter
Here's my second shot:
2. Source Code
The license must provide for distribution in Source Code as well as
all derivative works based on this source. "Source Code" refers to
the preferred form in which a the work would be modified.
Deliberately obfuscated source code, or intermediate forms such as
the output of a preprocessor or translator, shall not qualify as
Source Code. If the license allows for distributing derived and
Source Code forms of a work separately, there must be a
well-publicized means of obtaining the Source Code. Either physical
media transfers, for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost; or
online transmission, with no charge or access restrictions; shall
satisfy this requirement.
It may be the case that a licenses allows but does not require
distribution of Source Code. In this case, while a license may be
OSD Open Source certified, a particular distribution isn't open
source unless it includes Source Code or access to it as described
above. The recipient must determine Source Code availability in
> Of course, a big problem with the OSD is that it talks about legal
> requirements, and yet was not touched by a lawyer before being cast
> into stone. Any kind of extensive rewrite probably ought to be done
> by people with actual experience with the law, as opposed to
> dilettantes like you and I.
Having seen a number of licenses written by both lawyers and
dilettantes, I'm not sure either origin is sufficient to bless or
condemn the output. Though I do recommend a lawyer's read to confirm
that results match intent.
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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