[License-discuss] [License-review] Encouraging discussion around the technicalities of licensing

Smith, McCoy mccoy.smith at intel.com
Wed Feb 6 23:28:17 UTC 2019

>>From: License-discuss [mailto:license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org] On Behalf Of Brendan Hickey
>>Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 3:14 PM
>>To: license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
>>Subject: Re: [License-discuss] [License-review] Encouraging discussion around the technicalities of licensing

>>On Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 17:19 Smith, McCoy <mccoy.smith at intel.com<mailto:mccoy.smith at intel.com> wrote:.
IMO, the business model of the submitter should be completely immaterial, and the license should stand or fall based on whether it conforms to the OSD & whether the drafting is sufficiently rigorous and clear.  This is one of several propositions I proposed during my talk at CopyleftConf on Monday.

>>Hi McCoy,

>>I don't think the criteria you've laid out are sufficient. For starters there's proliferation which I believe is largely a settled matter. Putting proliferation aside other policy concerns remain.

I’m not so sure proliferation is a settled matter.  There are a variety of opinions on that, ranging from “proliferation is no problem” to “proliferation is a problem when there are numerous slight variants” to “proliferation must be avoided in virtually all circumstances.”  I’m in the middle category on this.

>> a license that conforms to the OSD, is drafted rigorously, but may be impossible to comply with in practice (ex. It fails debian-legal's desert island test.) Such a license should be rejected. What good is a license that can't be used? I believe that >>the board must consider public policy in their decision-making. What I don't see are bright lines delineating which matters of policy they should and should not consider.

I think a license that is impossible to comply with is a license that is poorly drafted, either intentionally or non-intentionally.

>>On the topic of good faith, it's a given that we should assume it. It does not follow from this that we should always disregard the motives of the submitter. In other words: Charity is not a commitment to naiveté. The SSPL followed on the heels >>of the Commons Clause and Salil Deshpande's anti-open source abuse campaign. Even if we read the OSD narrowly and resolve every question of conformance in favor of the SSPL, it would conform only in a way that hews as close to the bone >>as possible. I believe it was submitted in bad faith because it looks like a license submitted in bad faith.

I’m not sure SSPL should be tarred by Commons Clause; the Commons Clause clearly and intentionally failed OSD #6.  SSPL in prior iterations may have failed parts of the OSD, but those failures arguably are in the eyes of the interpreters (I argued that previous drafts failed parts of the OSD, but that was based in part on some “spirit of” or “inherent” interpretations of the OSD).

Recall that GPL was for many years, and may still be, used by companies with similar business models to that which MongoDB has said it is moving to.  That doesn’t mean GPL is not open, just that GPL allows for business models that some may feel are not open (as well as many models that are).
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