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

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Mon Mar 17 20:41:06 UTC 2008

On Mon, 17 Mar 2008, Schmitz, Patrice-Emmanuel wrote:
> 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. The fact other linguistic 
> versions were approved by the EC and reflect faithfuly the English 
> version is the responsibility of the EC: they have the largest 
> experience in the world of translating legal text as the EU treaties and 
> all community law (more than a million pages) is translated with binding 
> value in 22 languages. Concerning EUPL, there was a specific quality 
> control: the translations were elaborated by legal services and 
> submitted in May 2007 to expert lawyers that were familiar with Open 
> Source, they corrected and commented in August 2007.

It sounds to me like the intent here is that a licensee under one 
translation of the license can create a derivative work and legally 
sublicense it to other licensors under a different translation.  If so, 
then we don't have to worry about approving the other translations, 
because works under those translations can always be sublicensed under the 
approved English version.  If that's the intent, the license doesn't 
appear to make that sufficiently clear to this layperson.  You could add 
"other translations of EUPL v1.0" to the list of compatible licenses at 
the end, or you could clarify that "the license" refers to any translation 
of the EUPL v1.0, not just the one being read.

> 2. Concerning the provision of article 13 " The European Commission may 
> put into force translations and/or binding new versions of this Licence, 
> so far this is required and reasonable."
> Concerning translation, this will be submitted to the same process as in 
> point 1. If a new Member State joins the Union (as for example Croatia 
> by 2010) they will ask for - and obtain - their official translation of 
> the EUPL.

New translations shouldn't affect licensees under *this* license, though, 
so that seems superfluous.

> Concerning new binding versions, The two words "required and reasonable" 
> are the key:
>  "required" means that the European Commission may update the licence
> to address new legal or technological issues that would otherwise keep 
> the licence from functioning as intended.
>  "reasonable" means that a new version will not change the fundamental 
> characteristics of the licence, such as the freedoms it grants you, the 
> liability exemption, or its reciprocal (or “copyleft”) character, 
> meaning that the exclusive appropriation of the licensed work will never 
> be authorised.
> In the above limits, new versions of the Licence will become binding for 
> licensees. The above clarification will be published as "FAQ". 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.”

It doesn't matter to me how well-intentioned the modifications are, new 
language (aside from changes in names of copyright holder and other 
neutral data) always means the potential for a change in the balance of 
rights between licensor and licensee, must trigger a resubmission to OSI, 
and must not automatically apply to prior EUPL-licensed works.


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