For Approval: Socialtext Public License ("STPL")

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Thu Mar 22 04:57:17 UTC 2007

Ross Mayfield wrote:
> and a
>> > network use provision based on the Affero license. Socialtext believes
>> that
>> > the application software has special needs as compared to operating
>> systems
>> > because of the application software can be used anonymously in large
>> > distributions
>> Most open source software is actually used in this way.  Can you tell me
>> who made the file command, or wrote cdrom.c ?  Probably not, but both of
>> these are essential parts of (large) GNU/Linux distros.
> *RESPONSE: Our point is that the business models for application programs
> are different from operating systems, so this example does not address the
> issue. *

I don't really understand what you mean by "application programs".  It
seems like it should be obvious but it isn't.  Operating system
software, like cdrom.c, seems like it is actually much more anonymous
(my point above).  Application software is generally not anonymous.  For
example, Firefox and Open are clearly successful applications
with OSI-approved licenses.   However, most people know who makes them.
 Maybe you are really referring to SaaS when you say "application programs".

>> However, SocialText (the program itself) does not seem to have any
>> provision for providing source to users, so the clause is currently
>> toothless.  If you use this license, I assume you'll want every version
>> you release to have this feature.
> *RESPONSE: We chose the Affero provision because the open source community
> is familiar with it. Given the concerns expressed by License Discuss, we
> are
> willing to delete the provisions relating to transfer by HTTP and simply
> require that the source code be made available in the same manner as
> provided in the main license agreement (see Section 3.2 of the main license
> agreement).*

That change would be fine from an OSD perspective.  It's just strange,
because then you run back into the problem of private modifications.

Matthew Flaschen

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