For Approval: Adaptive Public License

Carmen Leeming cleeming at
Mon May 26 23:20:27 UTC 2003

I am pleased to submit the Adaptive Public License (the "APL") for 
review and approval.  The text version is attached to this message;  an 
HTML version may be viewed at:

The enclosed APL has been designed in an effort to address the ongoing 
need for a flexible public license that may be used in a variety of 
different circumstances.  The APL achieves this by providing a generic 
Open Source licensing framework with a series of adaptive features: 
 choice of jurisdiction, optional patent licensing provisions, a 
flexible "internal use" provision with an adaptable definition for third 
parties, an optional procedure for documenting distributed 
modifications, and limited attribution options which protect the 
interests of licensees while providing a fair incentive for developers 
to offer their software to the Open Source community.

The APL is closest to the Mozilla Public License 1.1 (the "MPL"). 
However, the APL offers several advantages not available with the MPL.
1.  The MPL is governed by the law of California, and all disputes that 
involve a US party must be resolved in the Northern District of 
California.  The APL gives the Initial Contributor the ability to select 
the governing law, and the courts of that forum also have jurisdiction 
to entertain disputes under the APL.
2.  The definition of "Covered Code" in the MPL is ambiguous.  The APL 
provides a greater degree of clarity with respect to the question of 
code governed by the APL. The definition of Independent Modules in the 
APL is precisely defined, and distinct from that of a Licensed Work.  In 
addition, consistent with the spirit of the APL as being adaptable, the 
definition of Third Party is flexible depending on the selection of the 
Initial Contributor.
3.  The MPL requires a patent license, which may be undesirable under 
certain conditions.  The APL gives the Initial Contributor the option 
(but not the obligation) of including a set of patent licensing terms. 
 If the patent licensing terms are selected, then they are applicable to 
the Initial Contributor and all other Distributors.
4.  The APL expressly provides for a clear positive obligation on the 
part of Subsequent Contributors to make a Licensed Work publicly available.
5.  The doctrine of privity of contract in many jurisdictions may raise 
significant barriers to parties who wish to enforce an Open Source 
license.  The MPL does not expressly address this problem, which could 
lead to significant problems where members of the Open Source community 
find there are licensees of Open Source software that intentionally or 
repeatedly fail to make distributions publicly available.  The APL 
contains an explicit enforceability clause that permits not only parties 
with privity of contract to enforce the License, but any other 
sufficiently interested party, i.e., another Recipient.
6.  The MPL requires extensive documentation of changes.  The APL does 
not require a documentation process by default, but does provide for a 
documentation process if desired by the Initial Contributor, when the 
APL is first selected.  In order to include documentation requirements 
in the APL, however, the Initial Contributor must clearly set out the 
documentation requirements in a Supplement File that must accompany each 
distribution of the Licensed Work.  
7.  By default, the APL does not require any recognition of the Initial 
Contributor or any Subsequent Contributor.  As a modest attribution, in 
the hope that modest promotional value may justify the time, money and 
effort invested in writing the Initial Work, the Initial Contributor may 
require some limited recognition.  Under the APL, Subsequent 
Contributors of Subsequent Works cannot require any recognition. This 
limitation was considered necessary to avoid the problems of badgeware 

As far as precedence is concerned, if the Licensed Work is combined with 
another work subject to another Open Source license, then the combined 
work must be subsequently licensed under the APL.  However, the APL 
minimises the risk of conflict with other Open Source projects by virtue 
of the definition of Independent Module.  Thus, software licensed under 
another Open Source license can be distributed with the Licensed Work 
licensed under the APL, provided the software licensed under the other 
Open Source license qualifies as an Independent Module.

Thank you for your consideration of our license.

Kind regards,
Carmen Leeming
University of Victoria
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