OSI's war on corporate licenses

Michael Poole mdpoole at troilus.org
Wed Apr 13 00:23:38 UTC 2005

Chuck Swiger writes:

> Bruce Perens wrote:
>> Chuck Swiger wrote:
> [ ... ]
>> I doubt it is OSI's intent to condemn licenses that allow you create
>> proprietary derivative works. Russ' complaint was that a lot of MPL
>> derivatives exist. Asymetrical licenses are a problem,
> ...because?
> [ You didn't respond to the first, and most important, paragraph. ]
> If you do not rely on opinion or facts that are in dispute, can you
> still explain why they are a problem?  Can you say why the MPL is a
> "worthy experiment that has failed"?

Asymmetric licenses are problems because, compared with symmetric
licenses, they are more frequently incompatible.  One asymetrically
licensed work can even be incompatible with different software under
the same license but with a different initial developer.  As I
understand it, one goal of the license tiering scheme is to discourage
that kind of island-forming.  After all, open source is limited if
your reuse of the code is significantly limited.

If I were to give a reason for why the MPL is a failed experiment, it
would be because it was (again, as far as I can tell) intended to be a
widely acceptable license.  However, there are now a large number of
MPL derivatives, and I know of no good web page that explains why they
are all necessary, which are compatible with which, or in what general
aspects they differ.  Given the MPL's length and lawyerly verbage, the
undesirable consequences of that should be obvious.

Michael Poole

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