For Approval: Open Source Software Alliance License

Sean Chittenden sean at
Mon Sep 29 21:18:22 UTC 2003

> >  > 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.

I am of the firm belief that BSD/OSSAL software will exist as long as
markets exist.

> 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.

That's my whole theory/prediction.  If OSSAL code can be used in
products, widget makers will lend resources to improve the OSSAL code
where appropriate and push those changes back to the community because
of source code maintenance costs.

> 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.

Many organizations look to the OSI as a guiding light for what's a
fair license and what isn't (or even what's considered a valid
license!  ex:  Right now the members of this list (but
hopefully not the OSI Board) are bent on arguing that OSI and the OSD
is responsible for only permitting licenses that GPL compatible.  The
GPL is not compatible with widget makers.  Why should widget makers be
excluded from participating in the open source movement?  I see no
reason provided their interests are protected.

> 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.

Inflammatory to who?  To GPL users?  Look at the reaction that
Microsoft has to the GPL?  Heck, I'm inclined to agree with some of
their critiques of the GPL.  Look at my reaction to the GPL: the
OSSAL.  At least I'm here asking for review and critiques from some
people in the "open source" community.

I thought about changing the words in the OSSAL to read as follows:

3. Redistributions of source code and contributions (i.e. patches) to
   source code may be licensed under more than one license and must
   not have the terms of the OSSAL removed.  If there are conflicting
   terms between one or more licenses and the OSSAL, the terms in the
   conflicting license must defer to the corresponding terms in the
   OSSAL or the terms of the conflicting license are waived.
4. If redistributions of source code, in either a textual or
   non-textual form and any contributions made to source code, in
   either a textual or non-textual form, are distributed under an
   inheritive license, source code and its contributions must also be
   distributed under the terms of the OSSAL.
5. Redistributions of source code in either a textual or non-textual
   form must not exclusively depend on software that requires
   disclosure of source code unless an acceptable, usable, and
   non-commercially available alternative exists in the market place.

But that dilutes my intentions and isn't nearly as vitriolic or
elegant as the original.  I'm still crafting and will come up with
another draft in a bit.  -sc

Sean Chittenden
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