For Approval: Transitive Grace Period Public Licence, v1.0

zooko zooko at
Sun Feb 1 04:23:20 UTC 2009

Thanks to Russ Nelson and Bruce Perens for their recent responses.

The idea that you two have suggested, to express the terms of the  
Transitive Grace Period Public Licence in terms of the OSL 3.0, plus  
an added clause, plus perhaps added waivers transferred directly from  
the holder of copyright on the original work to recipients of the  
derived work, is an interesting idea.  I would, of course, welcome  
help from the experts of the OSI in crafting future versions of the  
Transitive Grace Period Public Licence.  Software has already been  
distributed under the Transitive Grace Period Public Licence version  
1.0, but I don't anticipate that anyone would object to granting  
their rights under a newer version, so compatibility between TGPPL v1  
and a future version of the TGPPL will hopefully not be a problem.

However, even if I were to publish a new version of the Transitive  
Grace Period Public Licence, and even if it were constructed along  
the lines that you prefer, this would not reduce the OSI's burden of  
including the Transitive Grace Period Public Licence in the list of  
OSD-conformant licences, nor would it reduce the licence  
proliferation problem, nor the problem of mutually incompatible  
licences.  Therefore, there is no advantage in withholding  
certification of OSD-conformance from the Transitive Grace Period  
Public Licence v1.0 in anticipation of a future version of the licence.

Problem 1:

Me: "Here's some software I wrote.  You can use it under this licence."

Him: "How do I know that your licence is open source?"

Me: "Well, it is just the OSL 3.0 plus an added clause."

Him: "That doesn't prove that it is open source!  Your added clause  
could have legal effects which render your licence non-Open-Source.   
I'm not going to believe that it is open source unless I can look it  
up on the OSI's list of OSD-conformant licences and see that they say  
that it is open source."

Problem 2:

It is vitally important that people do not conflate TGPPL with OSL.   
We do not want people to choose to use code under the TGPPL thinking  
incorrectly that they can subsequently release their derived works  
under the OSL.  They ought to understand at the beginning that they  
are being granted the right to distribute a derived work while  
withholding the source of that derived work for up to twelve months,  
*on the condition* that they extend the same grant of rights to all  
transitive recipients of their derived work.  This is the reason why  
the TGPPL exists a licence at all instead of simply being a grant of  
a waiver from some copyright holder to some recipient -- because it  
is *transitive*.

Problem 3:

Because of Problem #1 and Problem #2, the licence is not going to be  
called "Open Source License v3.0 plus the Transitive Grace Period  
Waiver Clause", it will continue to be named "the Transitive Grace  
Period Public Licence".  Therefore, the fellow from Problem #1, if he  
were to find some software on an FTP site, err I mean on a web site,  
under the Transitive Grace Period Public Licence, would look it up in  
the OSI's list under T for TGPPL, not under "OSL plus added clauses".

Problem 4:

Because of Problem #2, the TGPPL cannot be licence-compatible with  
the OSL nor with the GPL.  This is very unfortunate, and I deeply  
wish that it were possible to have GPL-compatibility while retaining  
the TGPPL's core, but barring changes to the GPL, it isn't.

Therefore, while the idea of writing a new version of the TGPPL based  
on re-use of the unmodified OSLv3.0 is an interesting idea that I  
would be willing to explore, it would not relieve the OSI of the  
responsibility of attesting to the OSD-conformance of the TGPPL, nor  
would it solve the problem of licence-incompatibility between TGPPL  
and OSL or between TGPPL and GPL.  Therefore, there is no benefit in  
withholding the OSI's stamp of OSD-conformance from TGPPLv1 while  
awaiting TGPPLv2, and I hereby renew my request that OSI include the  
TGPPLv1 in the list of OSD-conformant licences.

Thank you.

Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn
Tahoe, the Least-Authority Filesystem --
store your data: $10/month --

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