OVPL Summary, Take 3

Alex Bligh alex at alex.org.uk
Sun Sep 18 12:12:43 UTC 2005


--On 18 September 2005 11:42 +0200 Chris Zumbrunn <chris at czv.com> wrote:

> I just realized that not even the QPL can serve as precedent for these
> two problems in the OVPL. The QPL only allows the ID to merge patches
> that are made available by other contributors, back in to the "Software",
> provided that *such versions* remain available under the terms of the
> QPL in addition to any other license by the ID. This means the ID can
> only dual license *the same work*, but not use the contributions in
> derivative works that are not made available under the QPL.
> Note that the OVPL only requires the ID to release *a version* containing
> a contribution under the OVPL, while the QPL requires the ID to release
> *all versions* containing a contribution under the QPL.

Yes. There is a slight difference. That's because (as I see it) the QPL
wording if you take it literally is completely impractical. The problem is
this: ID produces large amount of source code, and makes it available in
two forms: an open-source version (under the OVPL) and an enhanced version
(under the proprietary license). Contributor A produces a small change. It
is (obviously) entirely fair that ID should not be able to use A's change
in the proprietary version unless it is also in the open-source version.
However, using the QPL style wording (if taken literally) the contribution
cannot be used in the proprietary version without making it subject to
the terms of the license. That in practice makes it impossible to keep
a proprietary version and an open-source version running in parallel,
especially if they need to do things like share file formats.

That's why we've taken the view that the guiding principle should be that
contributions that the ID uses (under 3.3) should be made available to
everyone under the OVPL, but not necessarily other code that forms the same
work as the contributions. The OVPL insists *a version* that uses the
contributions is made available. Alternative solutions to this problem

Note that in practice, the insistence on "making a version available under
the license" (either under the QPL or the OVPL) isn't that much of a bonus
for contributors anyway, because in the normal case, the guy who made the
contribution will have made it public anyway (so the patch is available
anyway) - even if under the OVPL it's discovered by the ID through the
'selective distribution' mechanism, then the ID has to make it public. So
in either event all the rest of the community is getting is a version with
everything in together (i.e. seeing it merged).

This was the brilliance of Ernest's suggestion: forget 3.3 - just make
all contributions by people other than the ID BSD licensed. Then anyone
can use them, under any license, and no need for a special ID term. Whilst
this genuinely seems very attractive, it's difficult to see how to do
it in practice (I'm stuck) without ending up BSD licensing the original
code base. Suggestions welcome.


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