Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence)

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Sat Mar 15 15:44:03 UTC 2008

Schmitz, Patrice-Emmanuel wrote:

> On 9 January 2007, after two years preparatory work, several studies
> and a public consultation published on its official Web Site
> ( )

This is indeed a major initiative.  I recall seeing the license draft
posted, and I may have sent in a comment.

>> For the first time, the licence has now binding value in
>> 22 official languages of the European Union. This is a unique
>> acknowledgement of linguistic diversity in the open source community. 
>> The majority of other licence texts produced in North America
>> consider 
>> translations as informative only, without a binding value. Contracting
>> in 
>> national language is a common requirement from many governments in
>> Europe.

That is a major distinguishing feature of your license(s).

However, it begs the question, are you seeking approval for all of these
translations, or just the English?

In my opinion, it would be unwise of the OSI to approve the non-English
language versions at this time.  This is because translation errors can
affect the meaning, the majority of the OSI board is only fluent in
English (as far as I know), and hiring independent translators familiar
with legal terms would be cost-prohibitive.

This means, "The European Commission may put into force translations"
must be removed.  Particularly with the binding "new version" clause,
this is not satisfactory.

That clause, stating that a "new version of the Licence becomes binding
for You as soon as You become aware of its publication."

allows you to make the license non-OSD compliant at any time, by putting
out a new version or translation.

This should also be removed.  Someone must be able to continue using
license version X permanently, if they received the software under
license version X.  Of course, new versions of the software would be
under new licenses.

>> Last, the EUPL was really written with an open
>> mind, allowing developers to reduce the existing incompatibility
>> barriers between the various "copyleft" licences.

This feature, though it makes the license somewhat generic, and may
actually increase incompatibility in the long run, also probably
guarantees OSD compliance.

You may want to seriously consider adding GPLv3.

>> The article nevertheless notes that simple exercise of rights 
>> granted solely by the licence implies acceptance of its terms.

In my opinion, it would be better not to state that use of the work
entails automatic acceptance, as use alone is not covered by copyright
law in most countries.

>> x Art. 11: Added a clause drawing attention to law that may apply,
>> requiring that texts of software offered for download must state 
>> certain information about the licensor, such as her name and address. 
>> This is required by the European Directive on E-Commerce of June 12,
>> 2000. Note that the article draws attention to this legal requirement
>> but does not in itself make this requirement where such a legal
>> requirement does not exist. 

First, I think that law is itself fairly draconian, and would have a
chilling effect if enforced.  See for instance the unofficial Debian
Dissident Test (, which
says, "Consider a dissident in a totalitarian state who wishes to share
a modified bit of software with fellow dissidents, but does not wish to
reveal the identity of the modifier..."

Second, I think you are restating (not just /referring/) to the
requirement in the license, because the license says one, "/must/ at
least provide to the public the information requested by the applicable
law regarding the identification and address of the Licensor"

>> x Art. 14,15: Adapted the provisions regarding competent court
>> (Art. 14) and applicable law (Art. 15) to the European legal
>> environment. Beyond drawing attention to (but not requiring where
>> not applicable) the provisions of applicable law in European 
>> jurisdictions...

It seems to me that, "This Licence shall be governed by the law of the
European Union country where the Licensor resides or has his registered
office ... This licence shall be governed by the Belgian law if the
Licensor, other than the European Commission, has no residence or
registered office inside a European Union country."

does indeed always impose European law (even when neither party resides
in the EU), which is not reasonable.

Aside from these issues, the license seems generally good, and could
probably be approved with some modification.

Matt Flaschen

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