Red Hat CCMPL and exclusive for-pay maintenance releases

Florian M Unterkircher florian-rhccm at
Mon Jan 20 19:30:22 UTC 2003

Mr Jacobson,

First, it wouldn't be the first time a company possibly abusing code
developed under an OSS-like license would have to change 
their practices (think NVidia, Sigma Designs, etc.). 

I would like to suggest that you chose a BSD style license and 
don't acquire tainted assets from companies like AD, if that is what 
more accurately reflects your true intentions. Many people will agree
that making this appear to be a community effort and "borrowing" freely 
contributed third party code/ IP for an exclusively commercial offer 
through the back door is not only morally doubtful but certainly 
dishonest in this context, particularly the excuse is Red Hat's unability
to "[allocate] resources to launch the necessary infrastructure" since
November 12th, 2002 to make these releases available, as pointed out
by your employee in 
May I suggest that you sign up for a free SourceForge account which would 
instantly provide you with _all_ the resources that would be needed, in addition 
to some basic `man cvs` knowledge.

Anyway, I'm also cc'ing this to license-discuss at
for an outside perspective on this matter. I may well be
wrong with my assessment, despite legal training.

I believe the two key issues to be the following:

(1) Even though the CCMPL was apparently drafted with the MPL 1.0 as
a template, I believe it does not make a clear distinction
between an "Initial Developer" (MPL, that would be Red Hat as the 
legal successor to Ars Digita) and other contributors but rather treats 
all contributors, be they Red Hat or third parties, pretty much alike,
with essentially the same rights and obligations with regards to the

(2) Why would a "maintenance release" not be a release as understood by 
the CCMPL?


Best regards,


On Mon, Jan 20, 2003 at 01:30:48PM -0500, Howard Jacobson wrote:
> Subject: Re: Source Code for Red Hat CCM
> From: Howard Jacobson <jacobson at>
> Mr. Unterkircher:
> Red Hat disagrees with your legal analysis.  We intend to continue to
> abide by our current practice.
> Thank you.
> On Mon, 2003-01-20 at 12:39, Florian M Unterkircher wrote:
> > Mr Jacobson,
> > 
> > On Mon, Jan 20, 2003 at 11:47:56AM -0500, Howard Jacobson wrote:
> > 
> > > I understand that you want access to source code for the compiled
> > > software that we deliver to our customers under maintenance and support
> > > relationships.  But, you are not one of our customers.
> > 
> > True, but as per your download form I have been granted the rights
> > of a "Recipient" with regards to the CCMPL. So has everyone else having 
> > downloaded CCM through that form.
> >  
> > > Under the CCMPL, we are obligated to deliver source code for software
> > > provided to licensees.  We only provide maintenance releases to our
> > > maintenance customers.  Under the CCMPL, we are obligated to deliver
> > 
> > The CCMPL makes no distinction whatsoever between different code branches
> > or release types. So I assume its terms would extend to all of them. Maybe
> > you can point out why you believe the license would limit distribution of
> > "maintenance releases", or explain why such releases would not
> > be considered a release of the "Original Program" which the CCMPL defines 
> > as "the original version [..] as _released_ by Red Hat".
> > 
> > Since Red Hat owns the rights to the primary source you can of course
> > produce a release that is not subject to the CCMPL, but in my understanding
> > that release would have to be cleaned from any "Contribution" whatsoever,
> > since you would otherwise violate the rights of "Contributors" granted
> > by the CCMPL, which I understand as unlimited distribution of the code
> > to anyone. I believe you'd have to clean the source and program design
> > from any such Contribution first.
> > 
> > > source code for those maintenance releases only to our maintenance
> > > customers, which we do.
> > 
> > I disagree, unless of course the above mentioned maintenance releases 
> > are entirely free of any "Contributed" code whatsoever, which I find highly 
> > doubtful.
> >  
> > > We thank you for your interest in CCM and Red Hat and for taking the
> > > time to make us aware of your concern.
> > 
> > You are welcome ;) I'm still looking forward to receiving the code
> > as per my previous written request.
> > 
> > --Florian
> -- 
> Howard A. Jacobson                     A good solution applied now with
> VP / GM, Red Hat, Inc.		       vigor is better than a perfect
> 919.754.3700 x.44300                   solution applied ten minutes
> later
> jacobson at (text page)	        - Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.
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