Submitted for Approval: OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0

Gordon Kindlmann gk at
Sun Sep 11 19:48:38 UTC 2005


I have a question about OSL 3.0 which pertains to its application to  
software libraries, not about its conformance to the OSD.  Hopefully  
this list has room for such queries.

On Sep 11, 2005, at 12:16 AM, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> ...
> Section 1: Grant of Copyright License
> - Expressly authorizes copies of the Original Work in collective  
> works.
> - Expressly defines Derivative Works consistently with copyright law.
>   NOTE: Only the listed activities ("translate, adapt, alter,
>         transform, modify, or arrange") create derivative works.
>         "Linking" does not create a derivative work.
>         This license operates like the LGPL, MPL, CDDL,
>         and many other reciprocal licenses (but with greater
>         clarity and precision regarding derivative works);
>         it doesn't operate like the current GPL version 2.

Suppose I'm shopping around for a license to apply to my software,  
which is an old-fashioned C-language library (its only usable after  
being linked into some larger executable).  I want a reciprocal  
license that applies to distributions of modifications of the  
library, but not to executables that link with the library.

The LGPL is popular, I believe, because it strives to make that  
distinction in language programmers can understand (in its Sections 5  
and 6).  However, the terms of Section 6 of the LGPL, which require  
facilitating linking with a modified version of the library, are  
rather onerous when the executable was statically linked.  The OSI- 
approved wxWindows license ( 
wxwindows.php) is one way to put an exception notice on top of LGPL  
to do away with the behavior of LGPL Section 6, though it also  
permits binary forms of modifications of the library to escape the  
reciprocity of LGPL.  The FLTK ( and  
FOX ( licenses include more  
limited exceptions to the behavior of LGPL Section 6.

I have read your "Open Source Licensing" book, including Chapters 6  
("Reciprocity and the GPL") and 12 ("Open Source Litigation"), and I  
believe the statement made there that linking (in the compiler sense  
of the word) does not create a derivative work, but rather a  
collective work, which has implications for the reach of reciprocal  
licenses.  Based on that understanding, I believe OSL 3.0 to be a  
fitting license for distributing my library.

For my prospective users, however, can you give some more  
clarification of how OSL 3.0 applies (or does not apply) to an  
executables formed by linking with my library, ideally by comparison  
to the other licenses?  When you say above that "This license  
operates likes the LGPL", you are not saying that something like LGPL  
Section 6 kick in, correct?  Is it more like the wxWindows license?  

Thanks in advance for your time and for your continued work in the  
Gordon Kindlmann

More information about the License-discuss mailing list