For Approval: German Free Software License

Bernhard Fastenrath bfastenrath at
Wed Nov 24 00:15:41 UTC 2004

Chuck Swiger wrote:
>>> (2) The license board of the German Free Software License may put
>>> into force binding new versions of this License inasmuch as this is
>>> required and reasonable. New versions of the License will be
>>> published on the Internet site <> with a unique
>>> version number.
> This version of the license ought to have a version #, too, then.

This allows the license board to change the terms of
the license in any way they desire, even in a way that is no
longer compliant with the OSI definition of open source software,
which should be sufficient to make the license unacceptable for
the OSI.

This clause is also very likely unacceptable as both the licensor and
the licensee give up control of the content of their contract.

To leave the interpretation of 'required and reasonable' to a court
seems to overstrain the court as these terms are subject to

> I would suggest handling this the way the GPL does; ie, the user may 
> choose to accept the new version of the license at their option, not as 
> a requirement.

The exact wording is:
  If the Program specifies a version number of this License which
  applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of
  following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any
  later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
This leaves the software author the option to prevent newer versions to
take effect automatically.

> I have strong doubts about the validity of an open-ended license which 
> may be altered or changed by one party without notification or 
> acceptance on the part of the other party.  For example, the fact that 
> credit-card companies would like to be able to change the rates they 
> charge card-holders on an arbitrary basis does not make such license 
> terms agreeable to me.

-- <>

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