For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Thu Sep 25 17:48:01 UTC 2003

> > > > 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 happened.
> > 
> >
> Since what happened there was a copyright violation (it has, of
> course, since been resolved), the OSSAL would not protect against
> that any more than the current BSD license does.  It was already a
> copyright violation under the BSD license.  It would still be a
> copyright violation under the OSSAL.

Correct, but stating it for the sake of being obvious for those who
don't know copyright law (obviously we're talking about people outside
of the context of this list), the explicit part of the license doesn't
hurt or hinder anyone other than remind them of the obvious.

> Your arguments about businesses don't make any sense to me since
> there are certainly a number of businesses happily making money from
> GPL software.  Here is what my version of what I think you are
> doing.

Some, not all.  Just to keep the discussion from thinking that open
source is copyleft or that the OSSAL wouldn't be useful, let me point
out the following: Nokia's CheckPoint firewall (often considered the
best firewall in the industry) isn't based on Linux for a reason.
Same with Mac OS-X, BSDI/WindRiver, BIG-IP, etc.  Businesses using
open source doesn't mean businesses using GPL'ed software: there are
plenty of examples of the BSDL software being true.

> The reason that some people like the GPL is that it prohibits a
> proprietary fork.  Open source code is always open source; that is
> true no matter what license you use.  What the GPL prohibits is
> somebody doing work on the GPLed code and distributing the result as
> proprietary software.

Correct, which I want to be able to do and is what most people who use
FreeBSD (points to Apple) or PostgreSQL do (embedded in some of
Cisco's products).

> The reason that some people like the BSD license is that it permits
> proprietary forks.  They don't usually say it that way.  They
> usually say that the software is maximally free/open.

I define free along the lines of the way the BSD crowd does, not along
the way of the Linux crowd.  Free in terms of rights, not free in
terms of cost to personal developers.

> The OSSAL appears designed to prohibit GPL forks.  It permits
> proprietary forks, but prohibits GPL forks.  Since the main effect
> of a GPL fork would be to prohibit proprietary forks of the forked
> code, the effect of the OSSAL is to prohibit prohibiting proprietary
> forks.

Did you mean to say, "prohibit prohibiting proprietary forks?" Your
wording is rather verbose in the end, but you are correct, the OSSAL
is designed to prohibit GPL forks and to explicitly permit proprietary

> So what you are trying to do is sort of a reverse copyleft (I don't
> know what that would be called--not a copyright, but maybe a copyup
> or copydown).  Copyleft code tries to prohibit proprietary forks
> ``to make sure the software is free for all its users'' (quoting the
> GPL).  The OSSAL tries to prohibit prohibiting proprietary forks
> presumably to make sure the software is always free to be available
> for use in a proprietary fork.

Sure, that works.

> This doesn't seem useful to me, but obviously I don't speak for the
> OSI.

It's useful if you're a business in that if you use OSSAL software in
a product, you're never going to have to go back and rewrite that code
that you depend on if the module author goes copyleft.  In doing so,
more businesses would likely use and contribute to Open Source.

> Also obviously you can use your license whether or not the OSI blesses
> it.

Correct, though as stated before, Open Source is bigger than copyleft
software.  -sc

Sean Chittenden
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