For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Fri Sep 26 07:41:10 UTC 2003

> You've suggested that some people confuse open source with the GPL,
> but I don't think anybody on this list has that confusion.
> Certainly many companies use xBSD licensed code, just as many
> companies use GPL code.  I don't see that either point proves that
> the OSSAL would be useful.

I am in the throws of designing a language.  Businesses who create
commercial, redistributed products, use (indeed prefer) BSD/MIT
licensed software.  A language who's core is BSD/MIT is of use to
businesses.  A language who's modules are all GPL is a language of
little use to a business that doesn't want to have to reinvent the
wheel.  On the other hand, a language with all of its modules that are
available under a BSD/MIT license, is of value.  To achieve this, I
wrote OSSAL and will distribute it the language.  An MIT or BSD
license does not achieve the end result that I am looking for.  The
OSSAL is an MIT license with some baggage to prevent copyleft modules,
however the OSSAL's use is obviously broader than that and has been
well received by a half dozen people or so in the last 24hrs (thank
you to those who have sent praise, I'm glad I'm not existing in a void
or am delusional).


> You say that the OSSAL explicitly permits proprietary forks, but the
> BSD license does that as well.  The OSSAL prohibits something very
> specific: if somebody takes code under license X, and takes GPL
> code, and links them together, and distributes the result, that is
> permitted if X is the BSD license, but prohibited if X is the OSSAL
> license.

Correct.  If someone needs some code that is only available under the
GPL, then there exists the need for that code to be rewritten under a
BSD/MIT license.


> > > 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.
> When I read that statement it is clear to me that that is true of
> the BSD license as well.  Can you please explain to me, in words of
> one syllable and taking very slow steps, why it is not?

Quid pro quo: three single syllable words that can both be said
slowly, and do a halfway decent job of summarizing the OSSAL.  The
BSD/MIT license (which I support enthusiastically), however, can
almost be summarized as, quid pro throw (as in thrown into the abyss
without any assurance for getting something usable back in return).

>From a business's point of view, the BSD/MIT license is deficient in
its ability to provide some form of quid pro quo for its efforts to
release code into the wild while still preserving the ability for
potential competitors to assimilate the code or any modifications made
by the public.  The BSD/MIT licenses do not protect a business'
ability to reap any kind of contributions in the form of usable
intellectual property.  Non-feasance to address these issues by the
authors of the BSD or MIT licenses doesn't preclude me from writing a
BSD or MIT-like license that satisfies a business's needs.  Those
opposing the OSSAL are arguing that a BSD or MIT license covers a
business's basis, however it does not for the reasons stated above.



Sean Chittenden
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