[License-review] Legacy Approval: APL AROS Public License.

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Fri Jul 27 16:19:50 UTC 2012

Timothy Deters <tdeters at gmail.com> writes:
>The main reason is currently the "AROS Development Team" cannot seem
>to agree on who gets to make that decision.   We would like for now
>while we work out that aspect(Currently the idea is to form an elected
>board for that purpose).  Get recognized so that we don't miss
>opportunities in the future to be picked up and supported by companies
>who will only deal in OSI recognized Licensed code.

Thanks for the forthright answer, Tim.

The usual answer is that the copyright holder(s) gets to decide.  If
it's not clear who the copyright holder is, then it's also unclear how
the software could be licensed as open source (or as anything else) in
the first place.  Who is the licensor that is granting licensees these
rights, after all?

I tried to find out by looking at the copyright headers in the code.  So
I went to


but it says there is no anonymous read-only access to the sources:

  The AROS repository is running on a password protected SVN server,
  which means that you need to apply for access to it to be able to
  collaborate in the development.  At the request of Amiga Inc.,
  anonymous read-only access to the repository has been disabled.

While this in itself does not make the code non-open-source, it is,
shall we say, a *highly* unusual way to run an open source project.  Can
one really say "popular and widely used or with strong communities"
about a license where the only project (I know of) that's using that
license doesn't even make their source code accessible?

The same comment applies to "opportunities in the future to be picked up
and supported by companies who will only deal in OSI recognized Licensed
code", of course.

In any case, I'm not sure it would make sense for OSI to approve a
license (which is a very long-lasting act) because of a temporary
political delay on the part of the licensor(s).  The AROS team is going
to solve this decision problem eventually -- hopefully soon, and they'll
do it sooner if there's a strong motivation.  Relicensing under Mozilla
2.0, which is already OSI-approved, could be that motivation.

Again, there is still the more urgent question of who exactly owns the
copyright now.  If you're having trouble figuring out who can decide
about relicensing, then you may have larger issues on your hands.


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