[Fwd: FW: For Approval: Generic Attribution Provision]

Ben Tilly btilly at gmail.com
Mon Jan 22 04:28:59 UTC 2007

On 1/21/07, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Quoting Ben Tilly (btilly at gmail.com):
> [As a reminder:  We are speaking in this subthread of the MuleSource
> "Exhibit B" badgeware licence -- as opposed to any other licences
> recently discussed.]
> > However since you've brought it up and have avoided my key point, I'll
> > make it.  Copyleft forbids nothing.  However its effect causes many
> > people to not want to use GPLed software.  Furthermore the strength of
> > this distaste tends to vary according to which use people are
> > attempting to make of the software.  Yet that fact emphatically does
> > *not* violate OSD #6.
> You are here, perhaps deliberately, reading OSD#6 contrary to the
> meaning intended by its authors.  Copylefting a codebase puts no limit
> on _usage_, in that intended sense.  E.g., they have not dictated what
> the derivative work may do and what it may display in order to create
> two classes of users.

I am uncomfortable in attempting to read people's minds.  Let me go
re-read the words instead.  (Visits
http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php.)  "The license must not
restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of
endeavour."  The examples given involve absolute restrictions.  Like,
"You cannot use this in business."

My understanding of those words, and the elucidating examples, both
tell me that you can't tell people they _can't_ use the software.  It
says nothing about whether you're allowed to have terms that some
users will find unpalatable.  Furthermore both ancient history (in the
form of the GPL) and more modern history (AAL) tell me that it has
proven acceptable to the board to have terms that some people find

Now perhaps if I could read the minds of the people who wrote the OSD,
I'd find that they merely did not say what they meant.  And I'd find
that the AAL should not have been approved.  But I'm going to stick
with the words that are written and the decisions that have been made.

> > The disagreement lies with the point that you haven't yet addressed.
> > Which is whether they've gone so far doing this that they are
> > violating OSD #6.  In my opinion, they have not.
> They have interfered with _usage_ in a way that creates two classes of
> users, which is precisely what OSD #6 aims to delimit as outside the
> definition of open source.

Au contraire.  The license creates one and only one class of users.
There may be related software elsewhere that is under a different
license that results in another class of users.  But that would be
caused by a business decision, not by this license.  Under this
license, all users are equal.

> > I'm curious how you draw a distinction on this particular ground
> > between, say, Sleepycat and SocialText.
> Sleepcat issues code instances under your choice of an open source
> licence and a proprietary one, depending on whose terms you find more
> palatable.  Socialtext offers code instances under a proprietary licence
> (Socialtext Public Licence 1.0.0) or (in theory, for the sake of
> discussion) a different "commercial" proprietary licence.

When I said "on this particular ground" I meant in terms of OSD #6
compliance, and not whether it is open source.  (SocialText is not
open source because of OSD #10.)

I maintain that SocialText's license does nothing that targets a
specific field of endeavour.  (Except in ways in which their lack of
OSD #10 compliance affects things.  For instance nobody can write an
interface to their software that is able to be usable on a mobile

> OSI doesn't care if, in addition to open source code instances, you also
> offer separate proprietary instances.  It cares only about the open
> source side of your affairs.


> OSI also isn't in the business of ensuring that your customers feel well
> treated.  It's just about code and licensing, licensing and code -- the
> right to fork, the right to create and redistribute derivative works
> under the same terms, the right to use code for any purpose without fee
> or additional permissions.

Agreed.  Let the market decide.  (And the freedoms of open source
software make it easier to challenge a bad company.)


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