Copy-Back License draft for discussion

Chris Zumbrunn chris at
Sun Apr 24 19:24:43 UTC 2005

On Apr 24, 2005, at 7:20 PM, John Cowan wrote:

> Chris Zumbrunn scripsit:
>> The CBL was a "for fun" attempt to come up with a project-neutral
>> license template that is as free and non-verbose as possible but has
>> what I call a "copy-back" nature as opposed to copy-left or 
>> copy-right.
>> It's basically a template version of a BSD style license with the
>> addition of clause 5 which asks for modifications and extensions to be
>> shared back to the original contributor. It stays short of burdening
>> the licensee with additional copy-left or copy-right restrictions. But
>> the copy-back is a strong copy-back... How much copy-back is legal
>> (compatible with copyright law) and how much copy-back is still 
>> "free"?
> Licenses like this are generally considered obnoxious, and people who 
> make
> distros generally don't like them.  If you have 100 different programs
> licensed under the CBL, then you are burdened with keeping track of 100
> different licensor email addresses and sending notices to them if and 
> only if.
> About the most that the FLOSS community will accept is a requirement to
> publicize the change on a web page, not to actively mail it back to 
> you.

I see your point and I agree that if a copyback license is considered 
obnoxious in the way you're thinking then that's a show-stopper.

People who simply make a distro would not have to keep track of 
anything. They just need to keep the copyright notice in place the same 
way they currently do with the BSD license. In which way does the 
Copyback License require them to keep track of something?

Developers that make modifications on the other hand are burdened with 
keeping track of changes and feeding them back to the licensor, which 
could definitely become annoying, specially through multiple tiers of 
derivative works.

5. Reasonable efforts to support this project must be made by 
     any modifications and extensions back to the original contributor, 
     must be notified on how to easily obtain such contributions by 
     the Contact Email Address.

With this formulation it's possible to send one notification about 
where any future modifications will continue to be made available. 
Also, I dropped the reference to the BSD license, which was an 
unnecessary restriction.

Since these notifications are not required for distribution - only for 
modification - and since they can be one-time notifications on how to 
obtain any future contributions, do you still consider this beyond the 
obnoxious threshold?


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