For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Thu Sep 25 04:47:09 UTC 2003

> > The OSSAL is the most similar to the BSD license.  This is a
> > derivative license in that it is modeled after the BSD license,
> > however it prevents code or objects from being used by GPL'ed
> > bits.  The reason for these addions being that as a language
> > author, I don't want any of the modules written by the open source
> > community to be GPL'ed as GPL'ed modules are of no use to
> > businesses and the language is centered around businesses that use
> > and contribute open source code.
> I'm sure you've heard it before, but I would encourage you to not
> use such a license.  People generally choose a BSD-type license in
> order to make the code as free as possible without actually
> disclaiming copyright.  Making code as free as possible ought to
> include permission to link it with GPL code.  Linking with GPL code
> does not make the code any less free than linking with proprietary
> code and distributing only binaries.


> Your stated goal can be achieved simply by not accepting
> contributions which are under the GPL.

My intent is to have people who do contribute, to not use the GPL.  I
want all of the modules in this language to be accessible under the
business friendly terms of the OSSAL.

> As far as I can see, permitting other people to distribute GPL
> contributions to your software does not reduce the freedom of your
> end users in any way, since anybody is already permitted to
> distribute contributions to your software without providing source
> code at all.

I am not concerned about freedom of development to users/consumers
(which is the aim of the GPL), I'm concerned about the freedom of
development for businesses.

> That said, I don't see any reason why your license does not conform
> to the OSD.

*nods* I have chosen much of my wording to be in compliance with OSD
as I think it is a very good criteria for Open Source.  You can
redistribute, you can modify, you can compile, you can patch, you can
distribute... you just can't compile in GPL'ed bits and can't run the
resulting library with GPL'ed bits, etc.

> >     3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of
> >     this software should, in good faith, display the following
> >     acknowledgment: This product includes software developed by
> >     the <AUTHOR> and its contributors.
> > 
> > Discussion: Non-legally binding clause that asks for recognition, but
> > isn't required.
> With regard to this clause, your discussion says that it does not
> require recognition, but a plain reading of the clause is that
> recognition is required if any features or use of the software are
> mentioned.  Which is it?

It isn't required, it says, "...this software should, in good faith,
display the following...", which doesn't preclude people from omitting
it if they have a reason for omitting it, but it also does place favor
on people including notice in advertising.  In legalese, this is
basically a nudge/reminder to include it in the manual wherever you
list off a zillion names and no one really pays attention, but the
author gets to point out to his/her name to their significant
other/kids/students, etc. and have a moment in the spotlight.

> >     4. Redistributions of source code may not be used in conjunction
> >        with any software license that requires disclosure of source
> >        code (ex: the GNU Public License, hereafter known as the GPL).
> This is also not entirely clear.  Perhaps you mean something like
> ``this source code may not be relicensed under any software license
> which requires disclosure of source code.''

Actually, it's meant to prevent this:

#include <stdio.h>

Where sdtio.h is GPL'ed.

Though you bring up two points here that I hadn't thought about:

1) Dually licensed bits that are OSSAL and GPL'ed is just fine by me
   so long as the bits are available via OSSAL.

2) Relicensed source code - I think I may add a clause to prevent
   this, but still allowing multiply licensed source code.

> >     5. Redistributions of source code in any non-textual form (i.e.
> >        binary or object form, etc.) may not be linked to software that is
> >        released with a license that requires disclosure of source code
> >        (ex: the GPL).
> This may preclude running the software on any system which uses
> glibc, such as GNU/Linux.  Perhaps this is your intent.

Correct.  Most Linux distributions with GPL'ed libc's will be unable
to run OSSAL software unless their libc is LGPL'ed (which is
unimpaired or affected by OSSAL): a non-issue for BSD or OS-X users.

As for the newly added item 6 of the OSSAL, here is the addition:

    6. Redistributions of source code may be licensed under more than one
       license and may not have the terms of the OSSAL removed.

Discussion: As stated above, I wish to preserve the business
friendliness of all modules.  Man hours and resources are precious and
duplication of work by anyone is foolish.  This ensures that all open
source modules are available to other businesses.

> This license raises the question of whether the OSI should
> mechanically approve any license which meets the OSD, or whether the
> OSI should apply other considerations as well.  If the OSI does not
> approve licenses mechanically, then I would vote against approving
> this license, as I believe it could tend to balkanize the open
> source community rather than build it up.

Right now open source works in favor of individuals, but not for
businesses.  OSSAL is intended for businesses and is just as open
source as FreeBSD.  In no way, shape, or form do I want to impinge or
interfere with the ideals of Open Source, so long as open source does
not, in any way, shape or form interfere with a businesses ability to
ship a product.  Unfortunately, too many people confuse Open Source
with the GPL and/or Linux and I think the OSD correctly skirts this
very issue and makes OSI more creditable in the process (thus averting
the phrase, GNU Source/Linux Source vs. Open Source/Business Source).


Sean Chittenden
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list