License Committee report

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Wed Feb 18 14:38:47 UTC 2004

Alex Rousskov <rousskov at> writes:

> > While I agree with the goals of the license author, he's putting
> > restrictions on the use of the software, and restrictions on use are
> > not allowed.  He points to other licenses which restrict some
> > modifications, but they do it at redistribution time, not at use
> > time. Fundamentally, the author is trying to use licensing to
> > substitute for trademark law.
> >
> > Title: Open Test License v1.1
> > Submission:
> > Comments:
> >   Larry Rosen:
> >   Rod Dixon:
> > Recommend: disapproval.
> Thank you for reviewing my license submission.
> The license submission instructions indicate that OSI "will work with
> [submittors] to resolve any problems uncovered in public comment".
> Could you please let me know how that problem resolution process
> works? Should I make modifications in hope to change your opinion and
> resubmit the license? Or is there a better way?

I don't speak for the OSI.

However, the way to resolve the problems is to consider the issues
raised on the mailing list, and adjust the license accordingly.

As can be seen form the comments, the problem is clause 3:

    3. Publication of results from standardized tests contained within
       this software (<TESTNAME>, <TESTNAME>) must either strictly
       adhere to the execution rules for such tests or be accompanied
       by explicit prior written permission of <OWNER>.

Earlier, you said, about that clause:

    The above is not meant to restrict the ways to use copies or
    the types of derivative works.  It is meant to restrict only how test
    results are _named_. If a user renames a standard test or invents her
    own new test, she can publish whatever she wants, regardless of
    standardized test rules.

But that is not what the clause says.  The clause says that you can't
publish test results except under certain restrictions.  That is a
condition on use of the software.

    Please note that OSI certified licenses already have similar (but not
    generic enough)  clauses! See, for example, Artistic License and Open
    Group Test Suite license. Both require users to rename standardized
    tests if standardized tests are modified.

The restrictions in those licenses are restrictions on distribution,
not use.  They state that if you distribute a modified version of the
package, you must change certain standard names.  They do not say
anything about publishing test results, or about how you use the
software in general.  You are free to use modified versions of the
standard executables under the same name if you choose, including
publishing anything you like about them; you are just not free to
redistribute them under the same name.

The distinction between distribution and use is important.  A license
based on copyright can't restrict the use of the software.  It can
only restrict copying of the software.

> Specifically, I would like to adjust the license so that there is no
> perception that some uses of software are restricted. I am not sure I
> understand the "modification restriction at redistribution time"
> loophole you refer to above, but would be happy to use that if needed
> (note that the submitted license does not restrict modifications of
> software at all!).

I think that you will need to remove any restrictions on the use of
the software.  That means no restrictions on publishing test results.

I should add that I understand why you want the restrictions.  But
there are many things which people want which do not fall under the
actions permitted by open source.

> Please advise what my post-disapproval options are.

Basically, to fix the problems in the license, and resubmit it.

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