Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence)

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Sat Mar 15 16:47:45 UTC 2008

Russ Nelson wrote:
> Matthew Flaschen writes:
>  > 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.
> You are correct, however, there are other potential solutions.  For
> example, one solution would be to say that a licensee may switch
> between translation of a license.

But what if translation X, say, doesn't require providing source code? 
Then, if someone gets code under the English translation and releases 
their derivative work under translation X without source, the code 
becomes non-free.  That defeats the intention of the license.  Even if 
the recipient then switches to English, it's questionable whether they 
can demand source code.

> That way, when we approve the English-language version, someone always has recourse to a license
> which is OSI-approved.

This also assumes the translation switching mechanism is correctly 
written in all licenses.

>  > 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.
> Yes, this clause is not acceptable.  *I* could accept "new version of
> the License becomes finding for You as soon as You become aware of its
> approval by the OSI as an Open Source license." but I recognize that
> other people may feel differently.

I would still object to that, and I don't think OSI has approved such a 
license.  It would seem to run afoul of OSD #3, which says:

"and must allow them to be distributed under *the same terms as the 
license of the original* software." [emphasis added]

>  > 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..."
> Free Software in a totalitarian state?  Why don't we also imagine
> frozen steam at the same time?

I'd rather have free software in a totalitarian state than no free 
software in a totalitarian state.

Anyway, the requirement shouldn't be written into the license.

> Sure it is.  It's just a choice of legal systems, just a
> jurisdiction.  Otherwise you're asking lawyers to draft a legal
> document without knowing what system of laws it will be subject to.
> Let's play a card game without Hoyle's and see if we can do it without
> arguments.

It's fine to specify EU law if the licensor is in Europe.  But 
otherwise, it should be the law of the licensor's residence.

Matt Flaschen

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