[License-discuss] For Public Comment: The Contribution Public License

Lukas Atkinson opensource at lukasatkinson.de
Sun Aug 4 17:49:18 UTC 2019

I have two concerns about this license:

1. it seems to disallow private modification and compel disclosure. Even if
this didn't fail the desert island test, it would be impossible to comply
because there's no time frame within which a change must be published. Then
again, publication is only necessary while the changes are distributed –
how does that work with undistributed changes, or changes that are only
distributed once?

1a. Your license requires changes to the software to be published, but
fails to explicitly require a source form to be provided. This seems like a
glaring loophole.

Proposed solution: explicitly tie a source publication requirement to
distribution of non-source forms, similar to the GPL. Preferably, do not
require publication but only that source is provided to recipients.

2. it doesn't mention patents. New licenses that don't include patent
licenses might have a more difficult time finding approval, as such
licenses fail to ensure that the software can be used freely.

Proposed solution: incorporate a patent grant into the license, preferably
modeled after Apache 2.

Regarding the prior art you mention:

Reciprocal Public License (RPL-1.5):
> It's not only too long and complex for my purposes, but it also explicitly
> defers arbitration to Colorado, USA, which I cannot accept.
> Eiffel Forum License, Version 2
> While being sensibly short and concise it only encourages - but does not
> require - modified versions to be publicly released.
> Microsoft Reciprocal License (MS-RL)
> It's copy-left for things such as static linking, containers, etc.
> (section 3,
> paragraph A) and it deals with patents and trademarks.

RPL binds the publication requirement to  the event that you “Deploy” the
software, but explicitly exempts personal use or internal research. The
license goes to great lengths to draw a usable distinction between uses
that require publication and uses that do not.

Note that “long and complex” can also mean “clear and explicit”, whereas a
short license might be very complex because a lot is implied and its
interpretation depends on legal context that might be inaccessible to

MS-RL only requires that you provide the source code if you distribute the
software, but doesn't require publication otherwise.
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