[License-discuss] Does Non-Profit Open Software License fulfill the open source definition?

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Tue Jun 28 04:19:52 UTC 2016

Vaclav Petras scripsit:

> the Non-Profit Open Software License [1] has non-profit amendment which
> discriminates against for-profit, i.e. commercial use.

Actually it simply forbids redistribution by commercial entities, not use.

> It seems to me that this clear violates the Open Source Definition
> [2] because it discriminates against a specific field of endeavor. Can
> somebody please explain to me why OSI lists the license as open source
> [3]? Is there something I'm missing?

It's because everything licensed under the NPOSL is automatically licensed
under the OSL as well, which unquestionably is an open-source license.
So if a commercial entity wishes to redistribute code (modified or
not) that it receives under the NPOSL, it may do so under the OSL.
This does not quite violate OSD #3, because the license is not pure
NPOSL but NPOSL+OSL.  But it's a marginal case, and perhaps it wouldn't
be approved today.

John Cowan          http://www.ccil.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing
on my shoulders.  --Hal Abelson

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