AFL 3.0

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Thu Apr 5 02:50:46 UTC 2007

 [LR:] John, I think what you just wrote is hogwash. My only concern is how
much time I want to spend arguing with you about this. 

I know you served on the License Proliferation Committee, but perhaps
(because hardly anybody's been listening for a while at OSI) you weren't
fully aware of my public and private objections at the time to both the
committee process and its result. 

Perhaps you allowed the other participants on the committee, a self-selected
bunch of people some with their own corporate or business motivations, to
convince you that open source licenses are all about "ecological niches" and
"social purposes," or about who's "winning"--just so they could get their
own licenses on the approved list. Because other participants on the
committee talked to me, I know that the decisions of the committee were
political compromises just to get some kind of agreement to demonstrate that
OSI could "solve the license proliferation problem" (whatever that meant!).
I also know that there was no legal analysis of any of the licenses on the
list to determine which had current value under the law and which are
obsolete licenses from our distant past. 

You're talking pseudo-law, utterly irrelevant to the choice or understanding
of FOSS licenses. 

One of the guiding principles in recent years for OSI's approval of open
source licenses has been the demonstration of uniqueness. I long ago
demonstrated that on this list for the companion OSL and AFL 3.0 licenses.
Placing AFL 3.0 on a "redundant" list is just plain wrong.


P.S. I know that others will have comments about other licenses on this OSI
list. If you write about those other licenses, please change the email
topic. I'm narrowing my focus to my own license, which at least some of the
people on the License Proliferation Committee obviously didn't read
carefully and understand. 

P.P.S. There is a growing amount of software under AFL 3.0. I'm doing my
best to educate the community why it makes an excellent contributor
agreement to open source projects and companies. But that's another thread,
for people who really care about open source licenses that serve important

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 3:03 PM
> To: Lawrence Rosen
> Cc: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: AFL 3.0
> Lawrence Rosen scripsit:
> > Can anyone name for me the license with which it is redundant? Remember,
> > in law as in software, close isn't enough!!!!
> Note the phrase "completely or partially redundant" in the description of
> this license group.  There are terms in the AFL that address questions
> such as choice of law that aren't in the Apache 2.0 license.  Likewise,
> there are matters that are addressed differently.  But the AFL is
> competing with Apache 2.0, BSD, and MIT for the same ecological niche --
> simple permissive licenses -- and it is not winning.  I think that's a
> pity, but I also see that it's a fact.
> Likewise, the OSL wound up in the catchall category because it's a
> copyleft license that's incompatible with the GPL (not in your reading
> of the GPL, I know, but for social purposes it's the FSF's reading that
> counts), and we don't need yet another separate copyleft commons.
> > The categories of licenses that OSI has created are, for the most part,
> > legally meaningless for purposes of choosing or understanding a license.
> Probably so, but that doesn't mean they are meaningless in practice.
> --
> John Cowan    <cowan at>
> But no living man am I!  You look upon a woman.  Eowyn I am, Eomund's
> daughter.
> You stand between me and my lord and kin.  Begone, if you be not
> deathless.
> For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.

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