Attribution & the Adaptive Public License

Richard Fontana fontana at
Wed Feb 7 04:51:58 UTC 2007

One other OSI-approved one is the Apple Public Source License 2.0.

Radcliffe, Mark wrote:
> For consistency, it is important to note that the only OSI approved
> license with an anti ASP provision is the OSL. The HPL, Affero and GPLv3
> have not been approved.  
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rick Moen [mailto:rick at] 
> Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 10:38 AM
> To: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: Attribution & the Adaptive Public License
> A member wrote me off-list for clarification, so perhaps I should also
> post it here.
>> Rick, sorry for the private e-mail, but can you please expand on this 
>> part of your e-mail:
> Not a problem.
>>> Aside:  It strikes me as very odd that all 20-odd "Exhibit B"
> badgeware
>>> companies (MuleSource and others) elected to hang their clauses off a
>>> copyleft licence (Mozilla Public License) whose copyleft provisions
>>> inherently have _zero force_ in their (and their competitors')
>>> no-distribution ASP usage model.  Isn't that a bit like requiring
>>> spelunkers to wear sunscreen?  Don't they realise that about 3/4 of
>>> their chosen licence is a _NO-OP_ for their entire market segment?
>> I am not sure what you mean here. Feel free to drop my message if you 
>> don't answer private ones.
> A copyleft licence's provisions stating the obligation to give others
> access to source code -- which are the main point of such licences and
> what distinguishes them from simple permissive licences such as the BSD
> and MIT/X licences -- trigger upon _distribution_ of the covered code or
> of derivative works from that code. 
> In the ASP business model, however, you make absolutely full use of code
> without the need to ever distribute it.  Therefore, for users operating
> in that market, the source-access provisions of copyleft licences[1]
> might as well not exist, since they never operate as intended:  ASP
> users never need to publish source.  Effectively, ASP users can fork off
> proprietary derivatives of copylefted works at will, and do anything
> they wish with those, as long as they don't distribute (something their
> deployment model makes unnecessary).
> Companies like Google can modify, re-use, exploit other people's GPL,
> MPL (etc.) works in ASP deployments for the entire coming millennium
> without ever needing to share back their changes.  Or, seen another way,
> if Google _does_ fully honour the intent of copyleft licences by sharing
> back its changes, it can have no confidence that competitors won't then
> take Google's changes proprietary in the manner described.  The intended
> reciprocity of such copyleft licences thus gets finessed by the manner
> of deployment.
> My point to the "Exhibit B" firms is thus:  "Why on earth would you
> use a licence most of whose key terms get automatically made
> inapplicable by the basic business conditions of your market?  For
> _this_, you paid for expensive legal advice?"
> [1] Other than copyleft licences tailored specifically to address this
> problem within the ASP market, three of which I cited:  Affero Public
> License, Honest Public License, and the GPLv3 drafts.
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