[License-discuss] [Non-DoD Source] patent rights and the OSD

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Tue Mar 7 22:56:55 UTC 2017

On Mar 07, 2017, at 04:09 PM, Richard Fontana <fontana at sharpeleven.org> wrote:

On Tue, Mar 07, 2017 at 03:55:37PM +0000, Christopher Sean Morrison wrote:

Of particular significance, it calls into question whether there are
any OSI-approved licenses that specifically exclude patent rights in
the current portfolio or whether CC0 would be the first of its
kind.  If there ARE, then CC0 would not create a precedent situation
any worse than currently exists and approval could move forward.

I'm not aware of any.

I guess that's a good thing...  (oof! more work then)

There is the 'Clear BSD' license, which the FSF considers not only a
free software license but also GPL-compatible:


But I am not aware of this license ever having been submitted for OSI

It's okay if OS != FS.  They're allowed to get it wrong from time to time too. ;)

I've also seen one or two companies engage in the practice of
licensing code under GPLv2 accompanied by a statement that no patent
licenses are granted.

By my reading, those "distribution terms" violate OSD #1 and #7.  This is potentially a problem for any license (e.g., all the permissives) that doesn't specifically speak to patent rights.  If the distribution terms specifically deny a patent grant, it will no longer be possible to freely redistribute the source code (that is, IF any contributor holds patent rights whose claims are implemented by the source code...).

So in other words, "this license is Open Source to the extent that,
when used, it is accompanied by [a separate appropriate patent license
grant]", for example?

Yes!  It would only be required on any license that explicitly disclaims patent rights.  However, it'd also be a reasonable statement for any license that grants implicitly as well.  For those, the converse might be, "this license is NOT Open Source if it is accompanied by an explicit denial of patent rights."  Of course, explicit denial arguably makes the distribution terms of any license fail the OSD.



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