OVPL summary

David Barrett dbarrett at quinthar.com
Wed Sep 14 21:08:41 UTC 2005

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> I don't think that is what typical licenses say.  The GPL, for 
> example, says:
> ...
> - If you distribute binaries and sources to one person, you needn't 
> distribute to anyone else
> ...
> The OVPL differs on the second point, obviously.

(Incidentally, do you mean to say literally "to one person" or rather
"to one or more people"?  I'm assuming the latter; please correct me.)

Ah, excellent summary, and the OVPL does certainly differ there. 
Because the ID can obtain any modifications that were distributed to 
anyone, and because the ID can do whatever he wishes with them 
(including integrating the modifications into the public tree), it's 
hard for contributors to maintain a "private distribution" under the 
OVPL whereas they might be able to under the GPL.

(Though I recall hearing that some see this as an undesirable "loophole" 
in the GPL, so the OVPL "plugging" this loophole isn't necessarily bad.)

Really, the ID can use his powers for good or evil.  An evil ID (which 
is the subject of most of our discussion) can potentially "freeload" on 
an active community of developers.  However, a good ID can use his 
powers to update licenses (and avoid the difficulty of Mike's CPL->EPL 
transition), mandate all changes be fed back into the public pool, 
establish business models that support the community that might not be 
otherwise possible, and so forth.

If a closed license is a cathedral and the GPL is a bazaar, then the 
OVPL might be something like a guild-hall down the street.  Nobody is 
compelled to join the guild, and nobody is compelled to stay when they 
want to leave.  But many choose to be a member when it's well run.

However, on the subject of notification, I see in OVPL Section 3.3 (the 
last four lines are what I'm specifically citing):

> If You do not make all of your Licensed Modifications irrevocably
> generally available to the public at large, then, upon written
> request of the Initial Developer, You must promptly provide, at the
> Initial Developer’s cost, a copy of all Licensed Modifications
> together with the date at which each grant thereto became effective.
> For the avoidance of doubt, in the absence of such a request, You are
> not required under this Section to notify the Initial Developer if
> you contribute, distribute, or otherwise make available
> Modifications.

So while the ID can request all modifications (and contributors are 
compelled to supply them), contributors are explicitly *not* required to 
notify the ID when they make modifications.

This would seem to comply with at least the notification portion of your 
your FSF quote:

> You should also have the freedom to make modifications and use them
> privately in your own work or play, without even mentioning that they
> exist.  If you do publish your changes, you should not be required to
> notify anyone in particular, or in any particular way.

Regardless, as you say, FSF compliance isn't the goal, but OSD compliance.


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