OVPL summary

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at mibsoftware.com
Fri Sep 16 02:42:18 UTC 2005

Ian Lance Taylor wrote:

> Let me put it another way, in an attempt to make it clearer.  The GPL
> guarantees the right of private distribution given mutual agreement
> among all parties (and, yes, assuming that source is distributed with
> the binaries).  The OVPL does not guarantee that right.

I understood what Ian meant there, but his wording is very likely to
be misinterpreted, I think....

I am certain that Ian knows the GPL expressly prohibits mutual agreements
"alongside the GPL" that are limitations to the exercise of rights under
the GPL.  In other words, there cannot be a "mutual agreement" that
compels all parties to keep GPLed software private among several parties.

I think Ian's point is this...Even when the GPL-covered software is distributed
to several parties, the GPL does not compel distribution to the general
public or any others, regardless of how they ask or who they are.

The OVPL may be OSD-compliant, but a license with that kind of teeth seems
like a really bad idea.  Reminds me of TSCOG v Daimler.....  "Your honor, we
must see the tera-byte CVS repository of company X to make sure they have not
retained any private OVPL code.  Here is the undisputed evidence that they publicly
used these 10 lines of code covered by OVPL, which obligates them to the license-back
terms of the OVPL forever. We asked nicely, and here is their recent refusal to respond
to our request to inspect their repository."

I used to think that things like that would never happen.  But TSCOG v Daimler
isn't a bad dream, it's a real nightmare caused by license agreements with
teeth.  Am I wrong?

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