For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Fri Sep 26 16:29:21 UTC 2003

> > Businesses who create commercial, redistributed products, use
> > (indeed prefer) BSD/MIT licensed software.
> It would be nice if you could stop using the words ``business'' and
> ``commercial'' when you really mean ``businesses which use
> proprietary software.''  As I and others have pointed out, there are
> many businesses which sell commercial software based on the GPL.  I
> have and do work for such businesses, so for me it is not an
> abstract issue.  Yes, as you said the last time I mentioned this,
> there are of course very many businesses which do not use the GPL.
> But that does not excuse your continuing misuse of language.

hrm...  good point.  I'll use the phrase "widget makers," where a
widget is a product that is derived from open source software and
released as a proprietary piece of goo.  I think that'll keep everyone
happy and working on the same page, as you're right... this has caused
a great deal of confusion.

> > > 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.
> In other words, for your purposes, releasing the code under the GPL
> is no different from releasing the code without sources.  This
> argument against the GPL is just as strong as an argument against
> proprietary release.  Actually, proprietary release is slightly
> worse, since at least with a GPL release you can study the
> algorithms.

Why does everyone insist that they're protecting my interests by
likening a piece of BSD code that goes closed source as a bad thing or
as if it's not what I want?  That is precisely what I want people to
be able to do!  That's a smart business for reusing someone else's
wheel design, kinda like a dated patent.  The GPL is like the
perpetual patent though, it never expires and becomes usable to other
businesses.  *shudder*


> > 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.
> The real quid pro quo license is, of course, the GPL.  The arguments
> you bring out here are the same arguments that businesses use when
> they decide to release software under the GPL.

That's fine, but if a widget maker releases a piece of software under
the GPL, other widget makers won't care and won't look at the
resulting open sourced code.  Under the OSSAL/BSD/MIT license, they
would.  In releasing code under the OSSAL/BSD/MIT license, I at least
have a snowball's chance in a hot place of having a professional
engineer who makes widgets look at the code and _possibly_ suggest
improvements in the form of patches, bug reports, etc.


> If you just want to have a ``GPL sucks'' license, then say so.  I'm
> sure you can find plenty of people to support it.

I'm trying to suggest that the GPL and BSD/MIT licenses don't fit my
needs as a business and I think the OSSAL is an adequate alternative
that suits my needs and the needs of others.  I know the "risks" or
possible scenarios for the OSSAL/BSD/MIT licensed code and think that
many here are trying to protect me from the very thing that I'm trying
to do.  I posted the OSSAL to this list/OSI for scrutiny, which it has
received, and it has even been improved as a result.  Thank you to
those who have challenged it, I do appreciate it.


Sean Chittenden
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