[License-discuss] [Fedora-legal-list] The license of OpenMotif (Open Group Public License)

Florian Weimer fw at deneb.enyo.de
Fri Oct 26 19:29:04 UTC 2018

* Adam Jackson:

> On Thu, 2018-10-25 at 22:56 +0200, Florian Weimer wrote:
>> Motif has since been released under the LGPL, so this is largely
>> of historic interest.
>> Was the license of OpenMotif ever submitted to OSI?
>>   <http://www.opengroup.org/openmotif/license/>
>> Debian clearly considered it non-DFSG-compliant, but I can't find a
>> discussion why this was the case.
>> In the FAQ, the Open Group wrote:
>> > 
>> > Does the Open Group Public License for Motif meet the Open Source
>> > Guidelines?
>> > 
>> > ANSWER:
>> > 
>> > No. The Open Group Public License for Motif grants rights only to
>> > use the software on or with operating systems that are themselves
>> > Open Source programs. In restricting the applicability of the
>> > license to Open Source platforms this does not meet term 8 of the
>> > Open Software Definition (http://www.opensource.org/osd.html).
>> <http://www.opengroup.org/openmotif/faq.html>
>> I find this surprising.  The license is not worded in such a way that
>> it is specific to a particular distribution: any free software
>> distribution will do.
> If I had to guess...
> DFSG#9: License Must Not Contaminate Other Software
> "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 free software."

But Debian distributes OpenMotif under this license, next to non-free
software for which sources are not available.  So clearly DFSG#9 did
not apply in Debian's view, otherwise OpenMotif would be
undistributable (then and now).

> We can argue about what "distribute" means here, I suppose. Also #8:
> "all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same
> rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the Debian
> system". So if it's not as free everywhere as it would be in Debian,
> it's not free enough for Debian.

So what I find particularly puzzling is that this license is a bit
like the GPL (version 2) without a system library exception, and at
least Debian pretended that the system library exception was not an
option for the distribution.  (According to that analysis it's only
something prioprietary operating systems coudl exercise historically,
due to the clearly separate vendors and distribution channels.)

Is it necessary that an open source license must allow porting to
proprietary systems?  I don't think so today.  But based on what I
found out about the OpenMotif license, people actually thought that
back then.  This surprises me.  Has this changed?

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