For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Ken Brown kennethpbrown at
Thu Sep 25 12:00:31 UTC 2003


You are making some very legitimate points.  Last year, Bruce Perens, one of
the most active proponents of the GPL, said the exact same thing at an open
source conference, the GPL has limited commercial applications.


-----Original Message-----
From: Sean Chittenden [mailto:sean at]
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2003 2:46 AM
To: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

> > 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.
> Your terminology is strange to somebody like me, who worked for many
> years at a business which did very well using the GPL (Cygnus).
> It's difficult for me to understand just who you mean when you use
> the word ``business.''  It seems to me that your license is
> Cygnus-unfriendly in more or less the same way that the GPL is
> Microsoft-unfriendly.

... I really want to respond to this, but this discussion is off topic
for the license at hand (determining if it meets the criteria laid out
in the OSD) and can be OSI certified.  If you would like to discuss
this, see below.

> > > >     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.
> If I understand this correctly, you should clarify point 5 to
> explain that the disclosure of source code in question is the OSSAL
> source code, not the source code of the software to which it is
> linked.  When I read clause 5 above, it says that you can not link
> OSSAL code which LGPL code, because the LGPL does require the
> release of source code: it requires the release of the source of the
> code licensed under the LGPL.

Hrm, that's not the intent, nor how I read it.  "Redistributions of
source code" means the source code in question that is licensed under
the OSSAL, not the software that it is linked to.  In the same vein,
since the LGPL allows closed source applications to be linked with
LGPL libraries and the LGPL does not require that the closed source
application have its source published (only the the LGPL'ed library's
code, which is not the target of the phrase, "source code"), the LGPL
does not meet this requirement, therefore allowing OSSAL programs to
link with LGPL libraries.

> > 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.
> And yet if your license is adopted widely it requires the
> duplication of work by people who prefer the GPL, in precisely the
> same way that the GPL requires the duplication of work by people who
> do not prefer the GPL.  So I think that your license really does not
> promote what you say it promotes.

Let me clarify some vocabulary:

people = home user or developer of applications out side of a
         commercial entity working on a not for sale piece of

businesses = commercial developers interested explicitly in the
	 purpose of developing commercial applications and products.

In the context of this discussion, the OSSAL is not interested in
protecting the "work by people," it cares about work by businesses
that is usable in its commercial products.  The OSSAL guarantees
freely available resources to businesses.  If "people" is defined as
above, "people" don't care if businesses use the same code as they're
using for their program.  In fact, "people" would probably prefer
OSSAL code over non-OSSAL code because it likely means that the OSSAL
code has been looked over by someone who programs professionally, or
that it has been used more widely and contains fewer bugs/more

> > Right now open source works in favor of individuals, but not for
> > businesses.
> I'm sorry, but this is nonsense.  The whole point of open source, as
> opposed to free software, is to support businesses.

Oooh!  Good clarification, though I try to avoid most of this semantic
open source propaganda mess when possible.  I'm not a Linux user and
haven't bothered myself with knowing the silly differences between
"open source" and "free software."  Free software == GPL, right?
Regardless, your point is correct, valid, and noted, thank you.

Open Source + product == possible.  Free software + product ==
non-viable product.

> > OSSAL is intended for businesses and is just as open source as
> > FreeBSD.
> OSSAL may be just as open source as FreeBSD in the technical sense
> that it follows the OSD.  However, it is not as open as FreeBSD, nor
> as free as FreeBSD.

It is just as free if you're a FreeBSD user and given that any of the
BSD's.  In the context of businesses, term 3 is optional, term 4 and 5
are non-issues on any of the BSD's, and term 6 doesn't concern
businesses either.  In the contexts of individuals, term 3 is
meaningless (if anything could lead to possible name recognition),
term 4 and 5 affect users who use GPL based operating systems (but
doesn't prevent them from doing work on, or using freely available BSD
operating systems), and term 6 doesn't affect users either.  Term 6 is
intended to keep the GPL zealots from publishing 0.1 versions of code,
then changing the license to be GPL'ed, thus diluting the value of
OSSAL bits to businesses.  A copyright holder can still relicense
his/her bits, but the latest publicly available release is still
available under the OSSAL.

If the bits are OSSAL, a business can trust on the OSSAL bits always
being OSSAL.  Trust and dependability for businesses in Open Source is
what I seek to achieve with OSSAL.

> > 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).
> That fact that some people may have such a confusion is a reason to
> educate them.  It is not a reason to promote a license which weakens
> the open source community.

That's a topic for debate that is outside of the scope of this current
discussion.  If you, or anyone else would like to entertain such
discussions, please let me know and I will either entertain such
discussions privately, or if there is enough interest, setup a
dedicated list for this topic... but please, it's not appropriate
here.  The OSI is not a political organization to advocate use of the
GPL.  -sc

Sean Chittenden
license-discuss archive is at

license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list