Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence)

Bruce Perens bruce at
Mon Mar 17 05:20:38 UTC 2008

John Cowan wrote:
> Copyright law is about as international as any law could be
The economic rights have a lot in common between jurisdictions, the 
moral rights not so much. The licenses also include items that are in 
contract law, patent law, etc. and differ widely between jurisdictions. 
Even in the U.S., there's a pretty big difference between the 9th 
circuit's case law and the others, between a state's and the federal courts.
> In any case, a license without a choice-of-law clause is really multiple licenses.
It is anyway. There's the temporal problem: how has copyright law 
changed in that jurisdiction this year? Has that jurisdiction ratified 
the latest international copyright convention? The U.S. can take 
/decades/ to do that, and sometimes only partially implements it.

There's the combinatorial problem: do the copyright holder or the 
defendant in a case even reside in the venue naming the law, and will 
the court interpret according to foreign law? What happens when you add 
in the fact that there are multiple copyright holders in different 
nations? So, I think that a choice-of-law clause often works out to add 
one more body of law to the mix, rather than making things clearer.

> On your view, we should either review such a license against all legal systems, or else abstain from legal reasoning altogether.
OSI has legal counsel that is admitted to the bar in California. 
Obviously it can't provide the resources to review all jurisdictions. 
But I am not at all clear that it has the resources to review even /one/ 
that isn't California. I think it generally reviews the license and 
doesn't look very deeply into the venue. So, maybe it shouldn't be 
certifying that part.


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