[License-discuss] License licenses

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Fri May 31 04:47:01 UTC 2019

Here is OSL 3.0 § 16:


16) Modification of This License. This License is Copyright © 2005 Lawrence Rosen. Permission is granted to copy, distribute, or communicate this License without modification. Nothing in this License permits You to modify this License as applied to the Original Work or to Derivative Works. However, You may modify the text of this License and copy, distribute or communicate your modified version (the "Modified License") and apply it to other original works of authorship subject to the following conditions: (i) You may not indicate in any way that your Modified License is the "Open Software License" or "OSL" and you may not use those names in the name of your Modified License; (ii) You must replace the notice specified in the first paragraph above with the notice "Licensed under <insert your license name here>" or with a notice of your own that is not confusingly similar to the notice in this License; and (iii) You may not claim that your original works are open source software unless your Modified License has been approved by Open Source Initiative (OSI) and You comply with its license review and certification process.

There is similar language in AFL 3.0 and NOSL 3.0. The original OSI board specifically liked this language, back when they wanted me to create a license that met their expectations for an OSI-approved network copyleft license with an explicit patent defensive termination provision that met their goals then, and that WASN'T a GPL. I have been told that the OSL is a model for modified open source licenses in the U.S. and Europe. 

I realize most of you don't give a damn about the OSL license, but anyway that is what it says. Now, as I told Bruce Perens privately, I've resigned myself to being ignored on this OSI list. Bruce replied:

Yes, but you project your personal hurt about this pretty much every time discussion comes around to a GNU license. The world didn't beat a path to your door. It doesn't always, and it doesn't have to be fair. Reminding us how bitter you are about it once a month is a losing fight.


I'm not bitter. But I am disappointed that I get criticized whenever I mention OSL 3.0. I assume that I feel like others here whose licenses are often ignored in favor of the GPL and AGPL, such as the ones mentioned below by John Cowan. Fortunately, the recent threads about the OSI process revealed this general discontent with "three licenses are enough."


This is my once-a-month email about the OSL. :-) I add this information to John's reminder below about Eclipse PL, Apache 2.0, MPL 2.0, CDDL, MIT and BSD licenses. There are many others.... Thanks for collecting and organizing this information, Patrick. 





From: License-discuss <license-discuss-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of John Cowan
Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2019 8:42 PM
To: masson at opensource.org; license-discuss at lists.opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] License licenses


The licenses of the GPL and LGPL are embedded in them:  "Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed."  That's to prevent creating a twisty maze of licenses, all different.



The same is true of the Eclipse PL:  "The Agreement Steward reserves the right to publish new versions (including revisions) of this Agreement from time to time. No one other than the Agreement Steward has the right to modify this Agreement."



The license for the Apache 2.0 license is given at <http://www.apache.org/foundation/license-faq.html>:


Yes, you are allowed to re-use and modify them. You just can't hold the ASF legally responsible if these documents are not exactly what you intend them to be. We recommend that you obtain your own legal advice so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. 


And if you adapt these agreements for your purposes, you have to make sure that the phrase 'Apache Software Foundation' or any confusingly similar references or parts that specifically refer to the Apache organisation do not appear in your version of the agreements (except to note that your version is derived and differs from the original provided by the ASF).


The MPL 2.0 is similar, but embedded in the license itself:  "If you create software not governed by this License, and you want to create a new license for such software, you may create and use a modified version of this License if you rename the license and remove any references to the name of the license steward (except to note that such modified license differs from this License)."


The CDDL is much the same:  "When You are an Initial Developer and You want to create a new license for Your Original Software, You may create and use a modified version of this License if You: (a) rename the license and remove any references to the name of the license steward (except to note that the license differs from this License); and (b) otherwise make it clear that the license contains terms which differ from this License."


De facto, anyone can change the MIT and BSD licenses, and many people do.




On Thu, May 30, 2019 at 4:26 PM Patrick Masson <masson at opensource.org <mailto:masson at opensource.org> > wrote:



We recently received a question asking, "What are the licenses for the OSI approved license texts themselves?"


Currently the OSI website, including the pages with license text, states,


"The content on this website, of which Opensource.org is the author, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License."

"Opensource.org is not the author of any of the licenses reproduced on this site. Questions about the copyright in a license should be directed to the license steward."


We would like to add the following information to each license page:


- License Copyright: [Name of person/organization who submitted the license, and year submitted]

- License License: [The license e.g. CC-BY-SA, for the text of the license]

- License Contact: [Contact info for person/organization who submitted, or currently manages, the license]


If you have any of the above, can you please share it with me?


I will also be searching the OSI License Review / Discuss archives and OSI Board meeting notes for references to try to collect the same info. It would be nice if the people on this list could provide any information they may have, so I can confirm any information I may find/have.


Thanks for your help,





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Patrick Masson

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