License Proliferation

Matthew Seth Flaschen superm40 at
Tue Sep 6 20:47:17 UTC 2005

Only software in the public domain has no restrictions.  All licenses do.  Therefore, your definition of "free" is foolish.

-Matt Flaschen

> First, just to save bandwidth and avoid responding with similar wording 
> to several message:
> When I used the term "free" I meant the orwellian freedom...
> "free" == "Freedom as defined by RMS" == copy-left
> I thought on this mailing list this would not create confusion. 
> Obviously I was wrong.
> When I used the term "open" I meant "Freedom as defined by the rest of 
> us; you know, the absence of
> restrictions on activity", as Russell put it.
> On Sep 5, 2005, at 9:43 AM, David Ryan wrote:
> > This discussion I believe started because of discussions of whether a 
> > license should be approved based on its compatibility with other 
> > licenses.  You will never be able to place code from any strong 
> > copy-left license into BSD software. I think compatibility with other 
> > licenses in its class would be helpful and encouraged.  However, some 
> > ideals may never allow compatibility.
> Sublicense != Relicense
> Only the copyright holder can relicense code under a different license. 
> If you include code that you received under a BSD license in your 
> larger work that you license to me under a proprietary license, then 
> the code you included is strictly speaking sublicensed by you to me and 
> is still BSD. You can only sublicense, not relicense. I could take that 
> code and do with it whatever
> the BSD allows. The fact that you most likely will not be providing me 
> with the source code, since it is part of your proprietary larger work, 
> is just a technicality.
> Basically, what I was arguing is that the OSD could be amended with a 
> clause that prohibits licenses to dictate the license of larger works.
> > There seems to be two camps growing on the list.  The Darwinian camp 
> > who believe that aslong as a license is conformant then let it out in 
> > the wild and fend for itself.  If it is successful then more people 
> > will use it, may even improve it. If the license is not succesful it 
> > will be limp off into a corner of the internet and die.
> Yes, but even the Darwinists need to ask themselves what exactly the 
> licenses need to conform to. The OSD, of course, but that can be seen 
> as a moving target.
> > The other camp believe that the OSI have a strong duty to uphold a 
> > higher standard and make it easier for businesses and individuals to 
> > understand open source licenses.  This should be achieved by raising 
> > the bar of what needs to be achieved to get a license approved.
> I believe even the Darwinists can agree with this, depending on exactly 
> how the bar is raised. After all, they seem to have agreed to put it 
> where it is now.
> > My preference is the Darwinian one.  The biggest deciding factor 
> > behind this is that as a developer I believe it is my choice to decide 
> > how I will release my software.  Making my software open source is one 
> > of a number of options.  I can choose to keep it on my PC and not 
> > share it at all,  I can choose to create a commercial business and 
> > sell the software as closed source, or I can choose to make my 
> > software available with source code.  If I make it available with 
> > source code, there are plenty of both OSI approved and non-approved 
> > licenses to choose from.  In the end it is my choice.  [...]
> Exactly, just because you pick a license that is not OSI approved, does 
> not mean it is not open source. It might just never have been submitted 
> for approval or/and it might disagree with the OSD definition of open 
> source. So far the OSI has tried to prevent
> the latter from happening by keeping the OSD synonymously with "open 
> source". In fact, that seems to have been a major goal of OSI so far.
> > One of the common arguments for the other camp is that companies are 
> > going to throw their hands up and say enough.  Please, let them do it. 
> >  The solution will likely be that only a select number of licenses 
> > will be chosen by them.   If my software license doesn't conform then 
> > I need to choose if I want to change it to meet their select license, 
> > or just as possible, decide I don't mind that they won't accept the 
> > software.  Each business are also likely to have different 
> > requirements for their license approval.  I think the OSI performing 
> > that function is premature and unlikely to meet everyones goals.
> True, but another argument by "the other camp" is that easing code 
> reuse should be a goal of the OSI and that this is the true motivator 
> for license tiering and non-proliferation efforts. I'm saying, if that 
> shall be true then the OSI needs to amend the OSD accordingly and move 
> the GPL to the second tier of licenses that no longer meet the new OSD.
> Chris

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