[License-discuss] Wrapping OSI licenses

Thorsten Glaser tg at mirbsd.de
Fri Feb 16 23:35:59 UTC 2018

Hi Karan,

>Hi all, as some of you know, I'm the guy at the US Army Research
>Laboratory that is trying to push forward our Open Source policy.

A laudable effort ;-)

>- Would OSI approve the idea of a meta-license?

I don’t think you’d need a “meta licence”, merely a
formal licence grant taking this special case into
account. I was under the impression that this was
not even rare; for example, I maintain some soft‐
ware that was written in the 1980s by someone from
the USA who put it into the Public Domain there,
which is not recognised by my country, so I contac‐
ted him, and he gave me a statement saying something
like this:

「In countries where this work falls under copyright
protection, I hereby grant a copyright licence to the
general public to deal in the work without restriction
and permission to sublicence derivatives under the
terms of any (OSI approved) Open Source licence.」

I assume the US government case is similar enough;
I’ve found records of an USG person successfully
defending their copyright claims in some European

Of course, the wording was done by non-lawyers, so
you might wish to re-check it.

This way, the licence on the work itself is still
just the OSI-approved licence with no modifications,
and all the “magic” is in the licence grant, stating
that copyright is asserted only where it exists (to
prevent copyfraud), and putting out a licence for
those jurisdictions. (You might wish to change the
text saying so only for derivatives, but check with
your lawyer, and, ideally, also one who knows about
copyright law and neighbouring law in other major
jurisdictions. Input from other OSI mailing list
members might be welcome of course ☺)

I believe no one can invent an algorithm. One just happens to hit upon it
when God enlightens him. Or only God invents algorithms, we merely copy them.
If you don't believe in God, just consider God as Nature if you won't deny
existence.		-- Coywolf Qi Hunt

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