OVPL summary

Chris Yoo cyoo at squiz.net
Wed Sep 28 23:11:55 UTC 2005

Hi Matthew, 

> > IMHO, to create a precedent that would see such a model as 
> 'non open source'
> > would be an unfortunate development, particularly in light of the 
> > growing interest in open source by closed source software players.
> While I tend to be happy with licenses of this sort (section 
> 3b of the QPL is fairly similar), this argument isn't very 
> compelling. While it's desirable for more people to produce 
> open source software, this shouldn't be due to us redefining 
> "open source" in a way that reduces the rights we expect 
> people to have. If Microsoft offered us the entirity of the 
> sourcecode to Windows under a license that was almost OSD 
> compliant, that shouldn't cause us to rewrite the OSD just so 
> we could have more open source code.

I agree that the potential for broadening the amount of open souce software
out there should neither reduce the rights of open source software users nor
cause a rewrite of the OSD. However, I don't think it is that clear cut that
the OVPL results in either. There seems to be broad support for the argument
that the OVPL is compliant with the OSD despite being asymmetric and
potentially allowing the ID to 'freeload' on the community. 

With respect to asymmetry, I guess the question is whether open source
software users have the 'right' to have equal rights as the Initial
Developer? The only argument for this within the OSD to my knowledge is OSD
5 (Non-discrimination). The rationale for this definition, as stated on the
OSI website states:

"In order to get the maximum benefit from the process, the maximum diversity
of persons and groups should be equally eligible to contribute to open

I don't think this provides a basis for asymmetric rights. 

With respect to freeloading, I agree that there is potential but that it is
mutual (and thus fair). In the case of closed code going open the
free-loading is mutual - the community benefits from the initial release,
the ID benefits from subsequent community development. 

More generally, I think there are many precedents for allowing concerns of
public interest affect the way the OSD is interpreted. The addition of
'policies' to restrict in the interests of the open source community seem to
be exactly that. If interpretations of the OSD and what amounts to an open
source licence can be narrowed in the public interest, a more liberal
application, if it be in the public interest, should not be automatically
ruled out. 

Increasing the amount of open source software out there is merely a positive
consideration with respect to this. 


More information about the License-discuss mailing list