For Approval: Common Precertification Development and Distribution License

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Wed Mar 7 19:14:40 UTC 2007

Marc Whipple wrote:
> To the license-discuss list:
> This is because there is little incentive to participate or to allow employees to participate in Open Source development projects which are
> perceived to grant competitive advantages to competitors, especially in industries where involved certification proceedings are the norm. If
> an Open Source-derived piece of software obtains certification, a competitor could then incorporate it into their own products and, 
> depending on the industry, either immediately reap the benefit of the
certification or obtain a high degree of confidence that the product
> would be certified with little or no resistance.

I'm not familiar with these types of industries.  However,  aren't these
certifications generally expensive and time-consuming?  Also, it was my
impression that they become invalid after slight modifications.  I don't
think it would be effective for a redistributor to reapply for
certification.  In fact, this seems like an inherent advantage for the
initial developer.

> In order to provide incentives for such development either by commercial entities or by the employees of such entities with their approval
> and consent, the CPDDL provides that commercial usage rights for software developed under its terms are limited

Really, that breaks it right there, in my opinion.  OSD #1 says, "The
license shall not restrict *any party* from *selling* or giving away the
software".  Limitations just aren't okay here, even for limited times.

 to active contributors
> during the development process and for a limited time thereafter.

It appears that this limited time can only end (180 days) after
certification.  That means a developer could create software that isn't
certifiable, and it would permanently be non-commercial.  Thus, even if
a limited non-commercial period were acceptable, this could end up being

> The changes to the CDDL all relate to this goal and incentive concept:
Commercial Use is defined and restricted during development to active
> contributors

This is a violation of OSD #5, "The license must not discriminate
against any person or group of persons."

> We are not aware of any license which is entirely incompatible with the
CPDDL, although any license which claims to grant unrestricted
> Commercial Use rights to Covered Software which has not yet been certified would create a conflict.

Of course, all OSI-approved licenses do grant these unrestricted rights.

> We are aware that this is a departure from customary Open Source
licensing techniques, and we ask that you consider our goals and our attempt
> to attain them while maintaining the spirit of Open Source in a highly regulated, highly competitive environment with open minds.

This isn't a departure from customary technique.  It's abandoning a core
requirement of the free/open source ethos, and it just can't work.

The license you want is not open source.


Matthew Flaschen

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