YAPL is bad (was: Re: Backlog assistance?)

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Wed Sep 26 09:23:21 UTC 2001

on Wed, Sep 26, 2001 at 10:50:33AM +0200, Steve Lhomme (steve.lhomme at free.fr) wrote:


> En réponse à "Karsten M. Self" <kmself at ix.netcom.com>:
> > > "Is the OSI there to judge what a license is worth ? If so they
> > > should divide the OSI in 2 parts : the neutral/approval part, and
> > > the political/judging part... I think most people need the 1st
> > > part to work or use."
> > 
> > The OSI should allocate its resources wisely.  As such, it should
> > ensure that:
> > 
> >   - Newly proposed licenses aren't proposed lightly.
> >   - Newly proposed licenses don't overly duplicate existing licenses.
> >   - Newly proposed licenses topcally meet the OSD requirements for
> >     deeper consideration.
> > 
> > This does call for a acertain discriminating role in judging
> > applications.
> > 
> > I believe Rick has stated the situation clearly:  you have not
> > demonstrated your case, and appear to have no practical concerns.  I'd
> > suggest you mediate silently until the situation has changed.
> > 
> > Peace.
> OK, since you consider the theoretical aspect of the discussing
> pointless/useless/whatever. Here is my practical case for your
> pragmatic minds : I'm working (not alone) on a derivation of the QPL
> license in order to make it GPL compatible (and also a few minor
> changes). Maybe for you it's not a big change, but for me it IS.

GPL compatibility is rather difficult to achieve.  There are two avenues
I'm aware of:

  - Specify only conditions already imposed by the GPL (e.g.:  the
    (non-advertising clause) BSD license, the MIT license, the X

  - Dual license.  This allows flexibility of defining terms of your
    choosing, plus the terms of the license you wish to achieve
    compatibility with.  It's been discussed here previously.

The solution in the case of Troll Tech / QPL was to dual license the
GNU/Linux version of Qt.  This allows for porting the GNU/Linux library
to the legacy MS Windows platform, though to the best of my knowledge
this has not occured.

> As it's "overly duplicate existing licenses" it would probably not
> qualify for the OSD to check it... But is the OSD here to decide for
> the developers what are the license that "deserve" to be compliant ?

That's the OSI.  OSD refers to the definition, not the organization.


Developers then have the option to decide whether or not the OSI's
considered opinion means anything to them.  The OSI walks a thin line
between relevence and sobriety.

> If after 6 months of being published a license doesn't appear in the
> list, people will consider that it's not compliant and will be
> reluctant to work on something that might not be "open-source enough".
> Do you think that's fair to newcomers ? Do you think that encourage
> the growth of the Open-Source community ? 


You have a choice:

  - Use an existing license (or adapt one minimally along guidelines
    which are beginning to emerge, though they haven't been formerly
    codified), and accept the risk that it may not suit your needs

  - Write your own license, and risk that it may not suit your need
    perfectly, risk that it may not be compatible with existing
    licenses, risk that it may cost you a significant amount of time and
    money (legal counsel is recommended), risk that the OSI may or may
    not approve it, risk that the OSI may take a considerable amount of
    time (6-12 months is not atypical) in reaching its judgement, risk
    that you are going to need to significantly rewrite your license
    down the road (every significant "commercial" free software license
    has gone through at least two revisions, most more), risk that the
    user community may not find your license acceptable.

It's your choice.

My recommendation is that any organization not listed in the Fortune 100
not attempt to write its own license.  Of the companies I've seen which

  - Netscape (now AOL) has licensed Mozilla multiply under the MozPL,
    LGPL, and GPL, scrapping the initial NPL entirely.

  - Sun has created the SCSL and SISSL, but has licensed its OpenOffice
    suite multiply under the SISSL, LGPL, and GPL.  The SCSL remains
    quite controversial.

  - IBM has licensed several works under various incarnations of the IBM
    PL, now in a genericized form as the OPL, but deals significantly
    with works under the Apache License (BSD-like) and the GNU GPL

  - Apple's Darwin project is under the APSL, which remains quite

  - HP deals with licensing on a case-by-case basis.  Notably their
    e-Speak technology was licensed under GPL.

  - Troll Tech licensed Qt under a dual QPL/GPL license.

You've heard the opinions of several people on this list.  I believe our
own biases are clear.  You are ultimately the person who gets to make
the decision, and deal with the consequences.

> Do you think it makes evolution possible (AFAIK evolution is different
> from revolution because it's made of small changes here and there) ?

The evolutionary question is an interesting one.  I've discussed it in
the past, and have suggested a reference/local model to allow for
creating a common, defined, standard while allowing for changes by a
primary rightsholder in a project.  I'm not convinced that evolution in
this area is as critical as some would have us believe.


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
   Free Dmitry! Boycott Adobe! Repeal the DMCA!  http://www.freesklyarov.org
Geek for Hire                      http://kmself.home.netcom.com/resume.html
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