Yet another 'What License Is Best For Me?'

David Favro at
Fri Jan 19 03:12:03 UTC 2007

Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> Both the definition of free software and the definition of open source
> include the right to (re)sell the software. This is explicit in OSD #1:
> 1. Free Redistribution
> The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away
> the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution
> containing programs from several different sources. The license shall
> not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.
Ben Tilly wrote:
> That is also less than 100% open source.  Substantially less.  Check
> clause 1 of  If this
> conversation follows the last couple, we will now have several rounds
> back and forth as you are slowly convinced that this clause means
> exactly what it says - attempting to keep others from selling your
> software makes it not open source.  You can certainly write such a
> license.  But there will be strong objections to your using it and
> calling it "open source".

Actually, I accept your definition of the term 'open source' without
(any rounds of) argument -- it's a phrase that was specifically created
to express a given concept, so the creator(s) have the right to assign
any definition they like; but I still don't agree about the use of the
word 'free', which has a number of established and abstract meanings in
the English language (70 according to, so enforcing one very
specific set of conditions as the only valid usage is essentially
hijacking an existing word, thus making it extremely difficult to
express other concepts that normally would, in the English language, be
articulated by utilizing this word -- but I don't want to quibble over
words here.

However, what's a little galling about the definition isn't the clause,
it's what is stated as the *rationale* for the clause: "we eliminate the
temptation to throw away many long-term gains in order to make a few
short-term sales dollars."  That hurts me, because it connotes
short-sighted greed on my part, yet I don't want to make *any* dollars,
I don't want to sell the software, and I specifically want to prohibit
anyone else from selling it!  For clarity, let me restate my position to
say I am no longer interested in dual-licensing: there will be not one
dollar received by myself nor anyone else by distributing this software,
ever.  That doesn't change a word of the _______ license (what name to
use?) that I proposed, so I clearly understand that it still violates
the first clause of the 'open-source' definition because it prohibits
sales, but holy moly, that 'rationale' is a little offensive!  I really
think that you should consider removing that phrase "short term sales
dollars" because it just doesn't apply to someone like me, who
specifically wants the software *not* to be sold, and for exactly and
specifically that reason, you say that the person has "sacrificed [...]
for short term sales dollars".  That prohibiting sales can sacrifice
anything for sales dollars is nonsensical, and I hope you can see how
its connotations might rub me the wrong way.  The wording of your
rationale simply does not correspond with the wording of the clause that
it attempts to support.

As a separate issue, you might also want to clarify "If we didn't do
this, there would be lots of pressure for cooperators to defect."  I
just can't understand what this means -- defect to what?  Are you in
some kind of war?  What are you guys talking about?

Trying to understand the rationale just makes my head spin.  Prohibiting
sales in search of sales revenue, defectors to some unknown enemy...
either you guys, or me -- someone is smoking something.

But anyhow, thanks for all your help in finding such a license (although
I'm still not 100% there yet, so any additional help is still appreciated).

-- David Favro

P.S. I know that not everyone on the list is involved with writing the
definitions, I'm just generalizing when I say, "you guys".

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