compatibility and the OSD

Chuck Swiger chuck at
Thu Sep 23 19:51:51 UTC 2004

Bob Scheifler wrote:
>> Care to share *why* you're concerned about incompatibility?
> Because others are. :-) I want to understand how and why a particular
> view of compatibility, if one attempted to enforce it in a license,
> would conflict with the OSD, both for my personal edification, and
> so that I can explain it to others (not all of whom will be satisfied
> with being told merely that it's in conflict, or merely that it's counter
> to the culture so who cares what the answer is).

Maybe this example would help:

Let's say I write a new computer language "J++", and I propose RFC-4321 which 
defines that language and a set of APIs, a compatibility test suite, and 
results from a reference implementation.  I release the reference 
implementation software under a license which forbids people from 
redistributing modified versions of the software (in source or binary form) 
unless the modified software is RFC-4321 compliant.

Is that license OSD compliant?  No.

[ "Why"...?  I don't want to reparse the OSD again and again; if the license 
lets people change the software and redistribute it, perhaps to implement a 
competing standard (RFC-4322), that's open source.  If the user is not free to 
modify and redistribute the software for their own uses, it's not open source.

On the other hand, one could require people not to name their modified version 
"J++"-something unless it was RFC-4321 compliant, and still have a license 
which was OSD-compliant.  Such a restriction is probably not desirable-- what 
happens if the reference implementation fails the RFC for some odd case? ]


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