[License-discuss] System 76's BeanBooks Public License v1.0

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Wed Sep 18 12:44:15 UTC 2013

On Wed, 18 Sep 2013 01:06:31 -0400
Richard Fontana <fontana at sharpeleven.org> wrote:

> "Submit" is susceptible to a broad reading that would give System76 a
> privileged license relative to everyone else (somewhat like the old
> NPL). 
Re-reading this, I may not have been sufficiently clear. Section
3.1 says: 

  A "Contribution" means any work of authorship that is Submitted by You
  to System76 in which You own or assert ownership of the Copyright.
  "Submit" means to provide a Contribution to System76 by any form of

It is possible to read this as wildly unbounded, so that anything over
which one holds copyright that is made publicly available falls under
the broad license of 3.3. I'm sure *that* was not intended, but
something less than that conceivably may have been (any derivative work
of 'the Software', say, that one makes public available, though not
specifically meant as an upstream contribution to System76, is
automatically available for use by System76 under the broader license).

I know from experience that these baked-in CLAs are really difficult to
draft well, so I don't want to be too critical of whoever drafted this. 

Under the first, broadest interpretation I give above, and maybe the
second one too, this clause would violate the 'spirit' of the OSD,
though possibly not the letter. We have OSD 9, which says "The license
must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along
with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist
that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be
open-source software." 

Here you have the license placing restrictions on other
software that is not even distributed along with the licensed software,
the problem being that it is insufficiently clear that it is meant to
be limited to the case of "other software" that is meant as an upstream
contribution to the work that was received. 
- RF

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