New OSL for "official Intelligence"

Bruce Perens bruce at
Sat Apr 16 16:19:47 UTC 2011

By "new", he might mean "new for the project".

Open Source licenses are selected to implement a strategy for the 
project. One starts with the project's goals, and from the goals you can 
determine what the sharing paradigm should be. There are essentially 
three sharing paradigms: gift, sharing-with-rules, and in-between. These 
are represented by BSD, GPL3, and you can pick one of many OSI-approved 
licenses for the third. I generally advise companies to pick one for all 
three, so that they have a standard license within the company for each 
strategy. I advise them to make sure that all three are compatible with 
each other, so that they don't have situations where the licensing of 
their own projects is incompatible with each other.

The complication comes in when you want to use code from another project 
- in which case your license choice may be made for you by the other 

Another issue is the policy for accepting modifications. There is a 
spectrum of these, ranging from "authors own modifications" to 
"copyright assignment". I always recommend that there be a quid-pro-quo 
for copyright assignment.

My favorite copyright assignment quid-pro-quo is for the company to 
covenant to keep all work on the project open for a set period of years 
after the assignment, in exchange for the copyright assignments of all 
of the contributors. If the company can't do this for any reason, it 
covenants to remove the assigned work from their version. This provides 
a reasonable quid-pro-quo for copyright assignment.

There have been epic failures caused by copyright assignment policies, 
notably "OpenOffice", which didn't get the developers it should have, 
and MySQL, which lagged technically because of an ill-advised assignment 



On 04/16/2011 09:05 AM, Russ Nelson wrote:
> David Smith writes:
>   >  I need a New OSL for "official Intelligence" Project that I am starting.
>   >
>   >  Please guide me to start this process, thank you for your help an
>   >  assistance.
> The first step is to figure out why no existing license can solve your
> problem.

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