For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

David Presotto presotto at
Sun Sep 28 15:12:53 UTC 2003

On Sat Sep 27 23:28:22 EDT 2003, nelson at wrote:
> Sean Chittenden writes:
>  > Because I want widget makers to be able to take OSSAL code, and use it
>  > in proprietary products.
> But that's what the FSF is doing!  Why don't you want them to do it?
>  > The OSSAL lets widget makers who use the same set of modules,
>  > ensure that any work on the modules that they have an interest in
>  > (that is done in the public), will be usable to them in a product.
> So?  Let's say that somebody wanted to donate a module back to you,
> but they wanted to use a proprietary license?  You'd refuse it, right?
> Why should the GPL be any different to you?

I have to disagree here.

It is true that it is up to the original author whether or not he takes
back derivative works that return with a viral (inheritive?) clause like
GPL does.  However, there is little incentive for modifiers that have no
interest in other peoples' propietary abilities to avoid things like the
GPL.  In fact, there may be some incentive to use the GPL because that's
what many of your friends are using and hence the 'default' choice.  Even
if the changes are redistributed both under the original license and the GPL,
the more popular one will eventually win out as third and fourth parties
eventually get lazier and don't feel like using two licenses.

If code is released under the OSSAL and if that code is really cool,
people might still use and improve on it even though its not under the
GPL.  In essense, its requirement might push more people into making
improvements that can be incorporated into proprietary code than
without the OSSAL.

Of course, the question of whether or not that's a realistic expectation
is open to debate.  I believe the only way to really find out is to try it.
Trying it with or without the OSI's approval makes a big difference in its
eventual probability of success.

As an aside, it might have been less inflamatory if the license has said ``if
source of the program and any derivatives is distributed under an inheritive
license (e.g. GPL), it must ALSO be distributed under this license.''
Then Sean would always have access to changed code for his proprietary works
if anyone has access to them.  Someone must have suggested this already but
I don't see it in the archive.

license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list