Followup on Exhibit B licences

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Tue Mar 6 07:43:53 UTC 2007

Rick Moen wrote:
> Comments on things I might be overlooking are welcomed.

I'm a bit confused.

> A good-faith effort at an OSD-compliant licence, with or
> without certification, would be better received and more useful to ASPs
> than just reusing SugarCRM's really abysmally written MPL + Exhibit B
> licence, which rather blatantly violates at least two or three of OSD's
> ten principles.

It appears version 1.1.2 of SPL (the version governing the code vTiger
forked)  does not have these problems, as it only denies the right to
use SugarCRM trademarks, and does not require logos be displayed.  It's
still not a OSI-approved license, but it probably could be.

I think it is only 1.1.3 and later that has such problems.  Is that correct?

> Third-party reusers such as vTiger were _never_
> obliged to share their modifications, as long as their derivative works 
> continued to be developed, deployed, and made available to customers
> behind closed doors

However, that's a bit irrelevant, since vTiger *is* distributing.

> On the vTiger incident:  I am trying to approach this in a spirit of
> empathy and charity, but how can SugarCRM have _not_ known that such a
> fork was explicitly permitted by their very choice of licence?

Perhaps they thought 1.1.3 applied retroactively to all code.  It seems
clear that version would block what vTiger is doing.

> It was reuse that SugarCRM had _explicitly_ permitted, in
> its then-current licence (although that licence was, ironically, already
> not open source because of OSD#10 violation, if nothing else).

Again, I don't think 1.1.2 has OSD #10 violations

> "IP theft" _would_ be if vTiger had violated SugarCRM's copyright property
> rights in any way whatsoever.

Copyright law doesn't recognize intellectual property rights of any
sort, nor does it consider copyright infringement theft.

> And that is part of what SPL's 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 revisions added.

Is there really a 1.1.4? is still
showing 1.1.3.

> Users never see the original BSD coders' copyright notices
> concerning the derivative works, because Microsoft doesn't publish the
> matching source code

The BSD notice is still supposed to be in the documentation somewhere
("disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with
the distribution.").  See e.g.
for such a notice.  It's true that this requirement isn't always
satisfied by redistributors.

> The way to do that seems pretty obvious to me:  You would require that
> the program output, if any, include an "About" screen of specified
> information crediting the original developer -- or whatever is the
> closest approximation that the output devcie permits (e.g. spoken credit
> text for blind-user software).

That is pretty close to the GPL, which says, "If the modified program
normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when
started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to
print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice"

> 1.  Open source entails making possible the future reuse of both code and
> licences, by third parties.  SugarCRM's licence, however, is written in
> such a fashion as to make it completely SugarCRM-specific.  It cannot be
> applied by any other original developer.  Again, as with the blunder
> that left Roberts surprised, shocked, and indignant at vTiger's
> (explicitly permitted) fork, I cannot help seeing this as fundamental
> ineptitude on SugarCRM's part.

I think they are attempting to block reuse, and that they are doing so

Matt Flaschen

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