First Post / Question Regarding CPOL 1.02

John Cowan cowan at
Mon Oct 5 20:27:26 UTC 2009

Chuck Swiger scripsit:

> Just offhand, it's not compliant with the OSD #1 due to clause 5d:  
> "You agree not to sell, lease, or rent any part of the Work. This does  
> not restrict you from including the Work or any part of the Work  
> inside a larger software distribution that itself is being sold. The  
> Work by itself, though, cannot be sold, leased or rented."

The same is true of Artistic License 1.0 works under clause 5 of that
license.  (Indeed, this license reminds me sharply of the Artistic.)
However, as RMS pointed out, it's trivial to overcome this: just package
a 5-line "hello world" program along with the Work, and then you can
sell or rent the combination however you please.

> Clause 5f also runs into problems with OSD #5 & #6; for example, the  
> author might feel that using the software to develop a weapon is  
> immoral, but the OSD does not permit the license to discriminate  
> against that or any field of endeavor.  Or the author might feel that  
> using the software on a website which promotes Hinduism (or Judaism,  
> Christianity, etc) is immoral....

Agreed.  "Improper" is even more flexible: it covers anything the Author
and Publisher don't like.

Another problem with the CPOL is clause 7, which purports to require "You"
to indemnify the Author and Publisher even against their own misfeasance.
For example, suppose that Alice has written some proprietary software,
and the source code has fallen into the hands of Bob, who uses some or
all of it in a COPL-licensed work.  This work is then further distributed
by Charlie.  Alice sues Charlie for copyright infringement, but under
clause 7, Charlie cannot countersue Bob for *his* copyright infringement
that induced Charlie's innocent one.

John Cowan  cowan at
The Penguin shall hunt and devour all that is crufty, gnarly and
bogacious; all code which wriggles like spaghetti, or is infested with
blighting creatures, or is bound by grave and perilous Licences shall it
capture.  And in capturing shall it replicate, and in replicating shall
it document, and in documentation shall it bring freedom, serenity and
most cool froodiness to the earth and all who code therein.  --Gospel of Tux

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