OVPL summary

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Wed Sep 14 17:48:43 UTC 2005

Mark Radcliffe wrote:
> I agree that such differences in rights is not discrimination 
> under the OSD. Many of the existing licenses are not 
> perfectly recipricol. 

As Mark correctly says, many OSI-approved licenses, including the venerable
MPL and CPL licenses, are not perfectly reciprocal. They grant (or reserve)
some rights to an initial developer that other licensees don't have. If we
say that such licenses violate the OSD, we'd be forced to deprecate many
ancient and respected licenses. The OVPL goes farther than the others--and
some may want to amend the OSD to prevent this extreme--but under today's
OSD, I've told others privately, the OVPL should be approved. 

I've also told people privately that I don't like such special privileges in
open source licenses. I prefer equal reciprocity. Equal reciprocity was a
basic principle in drafting OSL 3.0, and its section 1(c) reciprocity
provision applies the exact same license terms to the original licensor and
any downstream distributors. That was on purpose.

Open source contributors may be reluctant to contribute to an OVPL project
owned by others. Many copyright owners of contributions either want to be
treated equally, or will negotiate special partnership arangements with
their up-stream licensors for consideration. I don't think they will
appreciate special rights built into the project's license. But that's a
marketing and public relations risk that OVPL licensors will be taking, not
an OSD compliance issue.

Unless the OSD is properly amended.

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Radcliffe, Mark [mailto:Mark.Radcliffe at dlapiper.com] 
> Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 9:47 AM
> To: Chuck Swiger; Brian C
> Cc: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: RE: OVPL summary
> I agree that such differences in rights is not discrimination 
> under the OSD. Many of the existing licenses are not 
> perfectly recipricol. 
> I would phrase it somewhat differently since droit de 
> l'auteur is a right only in certain countries. As the 
> copyright owner (generally the case), the initial developer 
> has a complete set of rights only some of which are licensed 
> under the license. The most practical effect of these rights 
> is mentioned by Chuck, to license the work under a different 
> license. On the other hand, all licensees will receive only 
> the rights from the initial developer and other contributors 
> under the license, so their rights by their very nature are 
> more limited. 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chuck Swiger [mailto:chuck at codefab.com] Sent: 
> Wednesday, September 14, 2005 4:54 AM
> To: Brian C
> Cc: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: OVPL summary
> Brian C wrote:
> [ ... ]
> > So perhaps the OVPL presents a more specific question to OSI: Is a 
> > license that grants greater rights to an initial developer than it 
> > grants to other licensees consistent with OSI's principles, in 
> > particular, does it constitute "discrimination against persons or
> groups"?
> No.  The author of the software generally has significant 
> additional rights on the original software beyond what a 
> proposed license grants to other people, by virtue of common 
> law where that applies ("droit d'auteur"), having the right 
> to release under a different license, etc.
> So long as people can continue to modify and redistribute the 
> software openly, asking people who want to make proprietary 
> modifications to grant the original developer the right to 
> reuse and redistribute such modifications for themselves is 
> OK.  However, part of granting full Open Source rights to 
> everyone means that the software has to be feasible for 
> others to redistribute, even if the original developer 
> disagrees or no longer exists.
> -- -Chuck
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