Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence) Questions

Schmitz, Patrice-Emmanuel patrice-emmanuel.schmitz at
Mon Mar 17 19:10:48 UTC 2008

Some answers below.

-----Original Message-----
From: Russ Nelson [mailto:nelson at] 
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 5:11 PM
To: License Review
Subject: RE: Request for approval: EUPL (European Union Public Licence)

>Schmitz, Patrice-Emmanuel writes:
 >> 1. Multi-lingualism (Approval of version in 22 official languages
 >> of the European Union).  The OSI approval is being sought for the
 >> English version only (that was transmitted to license-review) - as
 >> the OSI has not ever approved any other language licence.

>Right.  But doesn't that put the other translations at a disadvantage?

Well, it is impossible to avoid approval in English only (since OSI
works and approves only in that language) therefore translations will
stay outside the approval and it will be clear that only the English
version is approved.

I do not think that this will be perceived as a real disadvantage for
translations, because EC translation services are trusted as the best
possible translators by public and private stakeholders: it is their
core business to translate the whole community legal background
correctly in order that it becomes binding in all EU languages. And that
is working for many years like that, without major trouble. Saying that,
translations errors are a reality (even for EC legal services). I have
some trust in the "many eyes" of the open source stakeholders to
highlight the real license bugs, if any. However, once again, the
correctness of the translations is a problem for the EC, not for the

I had a similar discussion with Eben Moglen during the EUPL preparation
two years ago (when he visited the EC in Brussels): for him, after
working hard during 30 years to establish the GPL as a reference,
providing binding value to translations was perceived as a serious risk
of "desintegration" due to contradictory interpretations. For the EC it
is all the contrary: the priority must be given to the respect of the
cultural diversity, citizens from the small Malta or from the large
Germany have the same right to obtain their binding translation and the
risk of various interpretations is secondary. Public stakeholders have
frequently the obligation to contrat in their own language (for example
in France), however they are generaly perfectly able to compare with
some other translations (especially English if it is the sole OSI
approved version). All EUPL translations are published together,
facilitating comparison. 

Regarding the defense of user's rights under the translation of his/her
choice, this is a good idea and it is already possible: Since all
license texts are considered as equivalent, when software is licensed
"under EUPL", you do not need to refer to a specific licence language.
Therefore a user can present the version of his/her choice to a court.

>That's why I suggest that, if you have faith in your translation
>accuracy, you say that a licensee may defend their usage of the
>licensed software under the translation of their choice.  If the
>license said that, by virtue of us approving the English version,
>anybody using any translation has the choice of an OSI-approved
>license, so *every* translation is effectively approved.

>As Matthew points out, it may be that one translation accidentally
>grants a licensee more freedoms than you intend.  If so, that's your
>problem, not ours.  As long as we decide that the English language
>version provides sufficient freedoms, anyone may use any translation
>and claim OSI approval (with the modification I suggest).

 >> As the word "reasonable" may appears as too vague, there is already
 >> a recommendation to complement Article 13 as follows: "so far this
 >> is required and reasonable, without reducing the scope of the
 >> rights granted by the Licence."

>That change works for me.

 >> Patrice-E. Schmitz 

>Thanks for your reply!

--my blog is at   | Software that needs
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | documentation is
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315-323-1241       | that needs repair.
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  |     Sheepdog          | 

More information about the License-review mailing list