[License-discuss] For Approval: Scripting Free Software License, Version 1.3.6 (S-FSL v1.3.6)

Elmar Stellnberger estellnb at gmail.com
Fri Nov 8 22:07:46 UTC 2013

Submission Type:
    Other/Miscellaneous licenses

The license itself:
    Scripting Free Software License, Version 1.3.6 (S-FSL v1.3.6)
    :: see for the attachement

Link to previous public discussions:

    Please heed that potential discussion about OSD or OSS compliance 
should refer to the new license and not point to elder discussion. The 
license has been reworked now two times towards practical issues, 
consistency and OSD compliance.

At least the following programs are currently at stake to be licensed 
under S-FSL:
    http://www.elstel.org/qemu: confinedrv

The following improvements towards v1.3.5 have been incorporated into 

* explicit handling of compiled works :: 'automatic derivation process'
* defining where to find  or how to create the necessary changelogs
* the possibility to branch any time you want (more competition, desert 
island test)
* more precise rules for branches
* better naming scheme: suffixing only once (no *-deb-3-ub-7 but only 
* explicitly allows shipment of derived works as opposed to original+patches
* rules for usage of patents and trademarks
* paragraphs are numbered

Motivation for a new license:

S-FSL v1.3.x: Motivation for a new license / a revised version of it

1. The license should not only protect itself but any reference given to 
the authors such as concerning their web presence. It should also 
protect to some extent against re-publishing the software at another 
site with higher page rank possibly at cost just with the intention to 
draw off traffic from the original site (like f.i. already done with 
OpenOffice). It is the right of the user at least to know about the 
primary upstream page in the web.

2. Concerning the incorporation into paid, proprietary or commercial 
software the license should offer a comparable level of protection to 
intellectual property rights as GPL does even for scripts and software 
not being compiled (You actually have to use L-GPL when incorporating 
your compiled sources into any such product. However GPL does not seem 
to give any such protection for code distributed and executed as source 
or by just in time compilation). The license should still be compatible 
with compiled.

3. Note that S-FSL requires some minimal provisions by the distributor 
regarded by the author as de-facto standard and fair use conditions: a 
free core distribution or proactive distribution of patches, updates 
including security updates and fixes to broken functionality to anyone 
who got the core distribution, no undue obstacle in obtaining them, 
secure checksums to verify the downloads. Things quite common in the 
open source sector but not with some proprietary systems: Downloaders of 
Windows can not verify their downloads with publicly trusted tools; in 
order to update OS/2 Warp 4 some 'mean tricks' i.e. insider knowledge 
was necessary before I have published that on my personal blog at 

4. The license has especially been designed for people who want to 
release their shareware under an OSS-compliant version for the first 
time experimenting to get input from a broader public community. As the 
original authors retain full property rights of their software even 
after incorporating patches (compare it in this point with the SRC M3 
license) they may re-publish it under a different license like BSD or 
GPL at any time. It has been designed for the original authors to retain 
a maximum of intellectual property rights especially and also for those 
who are reluctant to make their software public domain in the first place.

5. By granting a group of developers to work on a new 'branch' other 
people can acquire similar responsibility and rights to work on an 
affiliated project.

6. The license should be compatible with the usage of patents and 
trademarks without unloading that burden to the end user.

7. The license should set a framework to facilitate contributions.

8. Distribution of programs under S-FSL should be facilitated and 

Note that there seems to be no other license which would even 
rudimentarily fulfill these requirements.

Many Thanks for Your Input and Contribution,

Yours Sincerely,
Elmar Stellnberger

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 Scripting Free Software License, Version 1.3.6 (S-FSL v1.3.6) as provided by elstel.org/license

1. This program may be used free of charge. It has been designed as research work and comes without claim for fitness to any particular usage purpose and completely without warranty or any kind of liability such as lost revenues, profits, harm or damage of any kind.

2. The program may be distributed by a third party given that the program is distributed in its original state completely without any kind of modifications or patches. If you need to re-distribute a patched version of this program you need to distribute the patches separately from the original so that the pristine version can be restored at any time. Any derived work must carry the name of the distributor, vendor or the product in its name (or a unique shorthand for it) preceded by the original unchanged final upstream name of the software and its version at the beginning. For automatic derivations a tag concerning the derivation process or its output like f.i. the machine architecture would be appropriate. Note that the distribution of a derivative plus reverse   applicable patches will be deemed equivalent to the distribution of a pristine version plus forward applicable patches.

3. Modifications applied to this program may not affect the name, original version, copyright, license or any reference given to the authors such as their email addresses or their web presence and/or page in any part of the program or any files attached to the program apart from updates to these references made by the respective authors themselves. You as a distributor need to let your contributors add their names, their email and modifications with date to the changelog. You may use the upstream changelog if present or your own one as long as it stays accessible upstreams. You must not charge for the programs under S-FSL themselves but you may require a reasonable charge for the physical reproduction of the data.

4. You may only extend or modify this program given that you do also consent with the following terms. As far as you are not a public distributor you are obliged to send a copy of your patches to the original authors referred to herein as the authors of the first version of the program as being listed in the changelog or program header whenever you publish or exchange your patches with other people. If you have some work in progress you are obliged to send out bundled patches once at least every month. This is to assert the availability and recognition of patches at least by the original authors or branch maintainers; a condition which must be held even if you agree not to actively 'send' or 'forward' your patches. The original authors will have to resolve whether to incorporate your patches or not into future versions. Any contributor has the right to be listed with full name, patching date and email address in the changelog of this program.

5. By distributing patches you do also consent that the original authors may incorporate your patches into future versions of this program. The patched parts of the program and the patches themselves will also become subject to this licensing and may even be used for free in other programs or in the same program under different licensing as soon as you choose to publish any kind of patch; i.e. you need to be ready to share your full intellectual property rights with the original authors whenever you choose to exchange, distribute or publish any kind of patch to this program. Sharing your intellectual property means that both parties - you and the original authors - obtain the full set of rights about your modifications which were initially only associated with you. The propagation of rights extends up to usage rights for patents used in derived works including the transferability of usage rights to child and parent branches; it does however not extend up to trademarks. Trademarks used in derived works may only be used by the original authors to describe the origin of newly incorporated features if they wish to do so.

6. You may choose to develop a different branch of this program any time you want given that your new branch serves a new purpose or is sufficiently different so that the original authors do choose not to re-integrate your branch. Separate branches have another base name and their own versioning scheme. A new branch will work under the same license and have the same rights as the original concerning the incorporation and management of patches giving the original issuers of the branch equivalent rights as the original authors for the scope of their branch. Branched versions do however need to forward and share patches including all associated property rights with their parent branch. Branched versions can not re-publish under a different license or use patches, patents or other intellectual property of the maintainers of the parent branch in a new context unless explicit consent from the maintainers of the parent branch is given. Hence the propagation of rights as described in the previous paragraph does automatically work in upstream direction only. The maintainers of the original product or any of its branches may any time transfer their rights to a new or extended group of people. The new copyright holders can thereupon act as the original authors or issuers of the branch called branch maintainers.

7. The term distribution describes shipping an aggregate of software, its documentation and adherent materials. Any distribution which wants to assimilate software under S-FSL needs to take the following minimal provisions: It must be possible to verify the download securely by a publicly available tool and a checksum which is exposed to the broad public. Additional keys may be provided in any kind of way. Security updates and updates against broken functionality must also be available to the public rather than just to a paying customer stock as long as they pertain to software that can either be downloaded or compiled from sources by the public and which pertain to the distribution. Note that updates do not include upgrades to future upstream versions of a program. Available to the public implies here available free of charge apart from connectivity to the internet or a reasonable charge for the reproduction of the data medium and does also pertain to the terms 'public distribution' and 'public distributor'. 

8. Public distributions have the advantage of not having to ship patches proactively to the original authors or copyright holders. This does not prevent the same software including its adherent materials to be additionally available at cost or privately somewhere else as long as public availability remains guaranteed at a reasonable level (f.i. download of the free parts of the distribution within some days.). A public distribution may any time also ship with adherent materials at cost such as documentation, support or additional software as long as it remains available to the public free of charge also without these adherent materials. However there must not be any undue hindrance in obtaining the distribution requiring special knowledge not known by users technically experienced in the field of the public software shipped with the distribution.

9. Software under S-FSL that should either be used as or in a component, plug-in or add-on of 'non public' or so called 'additional' software or whenever software under S-FSL is required to run such 'non public' or 'additional' software then S-FSL imposes the restriction that the additional or non public software must also either be made available under an OSS-compliant license and free of charge or that you will need to pay for the software under S-FSL being incorporated. A license may be deemed OSS-compliant if it has been accepted by opensource.org.

10. If any of the terms stated in this license were not in accordance with local law all other parts of this license should remain valid. If any of the terms about sharing patches should be deemed invalid modifying the software and sharing patches shall no more be granted from the time of the realization of the decision of the court on in the given country or region; already shared and incorporated patches are still subject to the given terms and conditions as far as deemed valid; the license needs to be re-issued then in order to allow further modifications and sharing of patches again.

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