Request opinion on proposed license

Kevin Halle seanhalle at
Sat Aug 7 08:03:50 UTC 2004

Hello All,

   I want to give my thanks for the excellent advice from this
list, and most especially to John Cowan, who followed up with
outstanding help.  
   Due to your input, I have applied to incorporate a 501c3
non-profit corporation called "Open Source Code Steward Inc."
which will receive the copyright to the project I've started.

   I just wanted to let you all know the difference you have
made and to thank John, and all of you for your guidance.


Kevin Sean Halle

--- John Cowan <jcowan at> wrote:

> Kevin Halle scripsit:
> >    Thank you all for considering my message.  I am
> considering
> > submitting a request for approval of a new license.  Before
> > formally submitting it, I would like to elicit the opinions
> of
> > you, the members of this list, on whether it is likely to
> pass
> > the Open Source Initiative requirements.
> What's so great about this plan is that it does not require
> any new license
> at all.  You can just use a standard reciprocal license like
> the GPL or
> the OSL, and get everything you want by doing a few other
> things as well.
> >    Thus, I propose a new license which modifies the GPL.  It
> > carries the same language, with the one exception that a
> > third-party organisation is named which has the power to
> > negotiate with commercial entities.   
> In order to achieve this, you as the initial developer must
> simply
> transfer the copyright, lock stock and barrel, to the
> third-party
> organization (henceforth 3PO).  The 3PO, being the copyright
> owner,
> is not bound by the GPL, and is free to make whatever
> arrangement
> it wants for proprietary licenses.
> For suspenders-and-belt-class assurance, require all future
> contributors
> to sign over their copyrights to the 3PO as well.  This is
> probably not
> necessary, at least under U.S. law, because such contributors
> have
> nothing to gain by suing, but it does make sure all your ducks
> are in a row.
> >    For non-commercial entities, such as researchers and
> > individual developers, the license reverts to the standard
> GPL,
> The 3PO just licenses it to them under the GPL (but do
> consider the
> OSL; it has certain advantages, like an explicit grant of
> patent rights).
> > with the one exception that any derivatives may only use the
> > name of the original work upon condition that they pass the
> > conformance test suite.
> This requires no exception to the GPL.  You simply create
> another
> non-profit organization which administers the name of the work
> as a
> certification mark: nobody can use it unless they pass the
> conformance
> tests.  The GPL neither requires nor forbids restrictions on
> the
> name of a program, because names are outside copyright law and
> the
> subject of trademark law.
> > If they fail the conformance suite or
> > are not tested with it, they must include a notice stating
> that
> > the work is derived from the original but has failed the
> > conformance suite.
> This does exceed the bounds of the GPL, but surely not being
> allowed
> to use the original name is strong enough?
> >    The third-party entity charged with negotiating with
> > commercial entities must be a non-profit organisation
> committed
> > solely to carrying out the responsibilities of managing work
> > assigned to it under the new license.
> Then just make it so.  That in no way has to be written into
> the license.
> > Will a license such as this be certifiable as Open Source?  
> Save yourself considerable time and aggro by not drafting a
> new license,
> please.  You really don't need one.
> -- 
> "You're a brave man! Go and break through the           John
> Cowan
> lines, and remember while you're out there             
> jcowan at
> risking life and limb through shot and shell,          
> we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are!"      
>         --Rufus T. Firefly

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