For Approval: OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Tue Sep 13 22:35:47 UTC 2005

Sorry, Russ, the previous email had a typo in the subject line. I wouldn't
want that to affect the license approval process. /Larry


TO: license-discuss at

At Russ Nelson's request, I am resending this email to license-discuss with
a one-word change to the subject line, changing from "Submitted for
Approval" to "For Approval." This is yet another example of OSI spending
more effort on form rather than function (e.g., the ONLY comment I've
received about these licenses from ANY OSI board member or attorney is this
complaint from Russ about the subject line), but I'm not willing to waste
energy arguing the point. I'd rather do whatever it takes to move this
license through review and to approval.

Russ wrote:
> Feel free to tell people that I whined at you.
> I whined at Sam Greenblatt, too, until he did it, so don't feel that 
> you're the only privileged victim.

Believe me, I don't feel privileged.

/Larry Rosen


I now submit for formal review and approval the Open Software License (OSL)
and Academic Free License (AFL) version 3.0.

The two licenses are at:

The only significant difference between the two licenses is in their
sections 1(c), which read as follows:

OSL § 1(c): to distribute or communicate copies of the Original Work and 
            Derivative Works to the public, with the proviso that copies 
            of Original Work or Derivative Works that You distribute or 
            communicate shall be licensed under this Open Software License;

AFL § 1(c): to distribute or communicate copies of the Original Work and 
            Derivative Works to the public, under any license of your 
            choice that does not contradict the terms and conditions, 
            including Licensor’s reserved rights and remedies, in this 
            Academic Free License;

Even though these are two licenses, they do not contribute to license
proliferation because they use the same language throughout to accomplish
their goals. OSL 3.0 is a reciprocal license; AFL 3.0 is an academic

The redlined comparison between OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0 is at 

Since OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0 are essentially the same, I describe below the
major differences between OSL 3.0 and its predecessor, version 2.1. The
newer license has been internationalized, with substantial help and
suggestions from lawyers and software experts in many countries, and
clarified with many suggestions by colleagues on license-discuss and
privately. Thanks!

Initial paragraph: 
- Changed the license version number.

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. 
- The duration of the grant acknowledges that copyrights expire.

Section 2: Grant of Patent License
- The grant now includes the right to "have made" and "import".
- The duration of the grant acknowledges that patents expire.

Section 3: Grant of Source Code License
- There is no longer a requirement to notice the location of the source

Section 8: Limitation of Liability
- Simplified the language to conform to international practice.

Section 9: Acceptance and Termination
- Clarified assent provisions to conform to international practice.
- Expressly provide for "fair use" and "fair dealing".
- Eliminated references to U.S. law.

Section 11: Jurisdiction, Venue and Governing Law
- Eliminated references to U.S. law. 

Section 16: Modification of This License
- This new section authorizes derivative works of this license.
  NOTE: This should promote license consistency; I hope it doesn't
        lead to license proliferation. 

All changes in OSL 3.0, including typographical corrections and language
simplification, are shown in the redlined comparison between OSL 3.0 and OSL

When OSL 3.0 and AFL 3.0 are approved, I will request that earlier versions
of the licenses all be deprecated on OSI's list.

/Larry Rosen

Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242  *  fax: 707-485-1243
Author of "Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and 
   Intellectual Property Law" (Prentice Hall 2004) 
   [Available also at]

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