License Committee Report for September 2008

Bruce Perens bruce at
Sun Nov 2 20:04:44 UTC 2008

Wang Donglin wrote
> 1. What is goal of open source?
The shortest statement I can make of the goal is to have software that 
is freely usable, modifiable, and redistributable.

Your currently proposed license conflicts with the "modifiable" part of 
that sentence because a very large set of potential modifications become 
an act of copyright infringement under your license.

The Open Source definition is not just a rule set, it's a manifesto. It 
states our goal. Your proposed license very clearly conflicts with it.
> 2. Does our endeavor help or against the goal?
Your endeavor would have a negative effect, because software under your 
license would very heavily restrict the further development of any 
software that uses it.

Currently there is nothing in your license that even permits reading or 
writing of documents that are not UOML, ever again, by any application 
that links in your software. This means that it's not just out of 
compliance with the rules. It's badly written and impractical.
> If something is in favor of the goal, but forbidden by the rule, we should update the rule.
Yes, but this applies equally to you. To achieve your goal, modify the 
license. The goal of Open Source is being achieved by rejecting licenses 
that are badly written and impractical.

In April, I recommended to you an attorney who was the chairman of OASIS 
and who could help you understand Open Source licensing. I can not 
determine, from looking at this license, if you have made use of any 
attorney at all, and you have certainly not made use of an attorney who 
understands Open Source.
> We encourage extensions, the only requirement is UOML conformance. This requirement is not a barrier in the way of progress.
Are you saying that writing a file with an extension that a current UOML 
reader would not understand is acceptable? There is certainly no 
language to this effect in the license.

In contrast, I can make a modification to OpenOffice that is 
incompatible with OpenDocument. That modification will be fully 
disclosed because of the rights granted through the GPL. Others will be 
able to make use of it in GPL programs, and people who do not have GPL 
programs will be able to read the code and understand the file format, 
so that they can implement compatible changes to their own program.



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