compatibility and the OSD

Chris F Clark cfc at
Thu Sep 23 20:51:28 UTC 2004

Someone asked Bob:

> Care to share *why* you're concerned about incompatibility?

His concerns about compatibility are not so unfounded and obscure.
Anyone who wants to release a new "standard" thing but who doesn't
want (or can't) to convene an ANSI/ECMA/ISO committee to standardize
that thing could easily want to include the standard as part of their
OSD compatible license.  Bob is not the first person who has asked for
this on this list.  He is also not the first person to be told, make
your standard conformance a trademark (or other certification) and
keep it separate from your OSD license.

However, his desire is valid.  Especially, if he might be in the
position to contribute a substantial block of code as open source. as
an author of such substantial block of code, he might be legimately
concerned that someone (say from a competing company) might desire to
leverage that block into an incompatible and competing product that
might not be open source.

I think it is worthy of consideration as to whether a license *can* be
crafted that meets those needs and still be OSD compliant.  As people
have noted, his "method" of doing so in the license is misguided.  It
will generally be OSD non-compliant if he attempts to make it
"impossible" (unreasonably difficult) to release an incompatible
derivative work.

Further, I don't think the issue here is with completely unrelated
derivative works (e.g. the person who leverages some fragment like the
sort code in an unrelated work where no one might assume that the two
works were intended to be compatible).

So, here is an alternate license template.

Any code derived from the work here licensed can be reused in any work
and redistributed provided that the following terms are met:

1) The terms of this license must pertain to any distribution of this
   work or any work derived from this work.

2) If the work (or a derivative work) is [re]distributed, the
   conformance test suite (which is part of this work) must be made
   available with such [re]distribution.

3) Any copyright notices contained in the code (or displayed by the
   code) must not be removed and must include one of the two following

   3a) if the resulting application can pass the conformance test
   suite, such copyright notices must contain the text:
   "Licensed under the XYZ license.  Conforms to the XXX test suite."

   3b) if the resulting application cannot pass the conformance test
   suite, such copyright notices must contain the text:
   "Licensed under the XYZ license.  Does not conform to the XXX test suite."

4 et seq.) Other OSD compatible terms....


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