[License-discuss] question re: open source language in LA County document

Chris Jerdonek chris.jerdonek at gmail.com
Wed Jul 11 19:46:12 UTC 2018

On Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 11:13 AM, John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org> wrote:

> It looks okay to me.  An analogue would be if Yoyodyne Software released
> some code, with the provision that if you run it on Yoyodyne Computer boxes
> you have to use Yoyodyne Maintenance on those boxes instead of Joe The
> Plumber Computer Maintenance.  It doesn't seriously restrict anyone's
> freedom to use the software.

Thanks for the reply. But wouldn't this mean that the open source code
would have more restrictions in this respect than other code, which seems
an odd condition for code that is labeled open?

For example, you could use Joe The Plumber's proprietary software on
Yoyodyne Computer's boxes without any such restriction, but by using
Yoyodyne Software's "open source" code, you would have the restriction.

If these added conditions were attached to the Yoyodyne Computer boxes
themselves, it seems like it would be okay, but the contract language I
cited seems to suggest these conditions would be part of the software
license ("it shall be a condition to the license").


> Caveat:  If Yoyodyne did that, it would very likely be an illegal tying
> relationship, but the State of California probably has sovereign immunity.
> On Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 3:13 PM, Chris Jerdonek <chris.jerdonek at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> I have a question regarding some open source language in a document that
>> Los Angeles County published recently. I'm not asking for legal advice, but
>> just to get a better understanding as someone who is working in support of
>> open source voting systems in the City and County of San Francisco.
>> Los Angeles County recently selected vendors to finish building their own
>> voting system (called VSAP), which may or may not be open source (it's
>> still to be determined).
>> Agenda items 22-24 in the following June 7, 2018 document are about money
>> they are allocating:
>> http://bos.lacounty.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=1DM-niVqFt
>> A%3d&portalid=1
>> If you click on the document for item #22, you will get to a 445-page
>> PDF. On the numbered page 7 of that document, in section 2 about "Ownership
>> and Intellectual Property," it says:
>> *2.4.2* During the Initial Contract Term, *in the event that the County
>>> elects to make the VSAP Solution (or any portion of the software, code,
>>> plans, diagrams, and/or other documentation delivered hereunder) available
>>> in an open source format, it shall be a condition to the license* and
>>> use of any such intellectual property that if the licensee thereof decides
>>> to use the VSAP Hardware in connection with the VSAP Solution, then to the
>>> extent such licensee engages (or intends to engage) third parties for such
>>> VSAP Hardware implementation, such licensee shall be required to engage the
>>> Contractor in connection with the design, manufacture, procurement and
>>> maintenance and support of such VSAP Hardware.
>> My question is -- is it possible for an open source license to have such
>> a condition and still be open source (i.e. under an OSI-approved license)?
>> Also, can anyone tell from page 7 what it says about what open source
>> licenses would be compatible with their conditions, and whether it is also
>> enabling the contractor to distribute the software not as open source, and
>> if there are any other notable implications?
>> Thanks,
>> --Chris
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