For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Thu Sep 25 16:42:40 UTC 2003

> > 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.
> Your intent might be clearer if you were to add a couple of words 
> (shown in emphasis):
>      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 _the OSSAL-covered work's_ source code (ex: the GPL).

Strictly speaking from a legal sense, it is not needed, however for
interpretation's sake, you're probably right.  I'll add an FAQ section
to the license page to handle this case.

> An aside: Linking in object form of (e.g.) an OSSAL-covered work's
> source code with GPL-covered source code does not and could not
> "require disclosure", for two reasons: (1) GPLv2 imposes no
> source-access obligation based on mere linkage or other creation of
> derivative works.  That obligation kicks in only upon redistribution
> of those derivative works.

I know, which is why the GPL is problematic.  If you're writing an in
house application, you have within your right the ability to link
against the GPL.  If you try sell a product, the OSSAL prevents you
from shipping that product if it uses GPL'ed code, which is what I
want.  Means that or other avenues for software
announcements will be venerable gold mines for businesses in terms of
software that they can use in products.

> > Free software == GPL, right?
> Not right.  I'm tempted to do a Venn diagram, but will spare you the
> ASCII-graphics torture entailed.  ;->
> Free software is a semantic map referring to the same territory as
> does open source (after you strip ideological emphasis, etc.).  It
> can be broken down into two sub-categories:
> Copyleft type: conditioned on source-access obligation.  E.g., MPL,
> LGPL, GPL.  Non-copyleft type: no such obligations.  E.g., old BSD,
> new BSD, MIT/X.

Bah, this is exactly why I avoid this kind of semantic propaganda

> > Open Source + product == possible.  Free software + product ==
> > non-viable product.
> As you'll see from the above explanation, you're committing a
> category error.

Fair enough.

copyleft + product == !possible; non-copyleft + product == possible;

> Returning to the earlier point:
> > If the bits are OSSAL, a business can trust on the OSSAL bits always
> > being OSSAL.
> This would be automatically true by default operation of copyright
> law, with or without OSSAL clause 6.  To reiterate: Licences over
> other codebases used in combination with the OSSAL-covered code
> _could not_ affect licence status of the OSSAL-covered portion of
> the derivative codebase.  How could it?  Doing so would violate the
> property rights of the OSSAL codebase's copyright owner.

This doesn't mean it hasn't happened, however.  Having it explicitly
stated doesn't hurt anyone, esp since this isn't the 1st time this has

Sean Chittenden
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