[License-review] Request for approval by license steward: Tidepool Open Access to Health Data Software License

Howard Look howard at tidepool.org
Sun Oct 6 20:34:41 UTC 2013

Hi Richard,

Excellent feedback and questions. Thanks! Responses inline...


On Oct 6, 2013, at 1:16 PM, Richard Fontana wrote:

> On Sat, 5 Oct 2013 11:58:36 -0700
> Howard Look <howard at tidepool.org> wrote:
>> My name is Howard Look. I am President/CEO of Tidepool Project. We
>> are a non-profit, (soon to be) open source project creating an open
>> platform and applications to help reduce the burden on people with
>> Type 1 Diabetes. We are proposing that we a new create a new license,
>> the Tidepool Open Access to Health Data Software License.
>> Our company and efforts are described here:
>> http://tidepool.org
>> Our rationale and proposed license strategy is detailed here: 
>> http://tidepool.org/blog/2013/9/17/wheres-the-code-or-a-funny-thing-happened-while-on-the-way-to-an-open-source-license
> While the license strategy specific to your software might seem to be
> irrelevant to the question of whether the license itself is 'Open
> Source' or not, I have a few questions about it which I hope you will
> entertain. 
> Given that you have decided to dual-license your software under GPLv3
> (an OSI-approved license) and this new license, why are you seeking OSI
> approval for the new license? After all, given your chosen
> dual-licensing approach, your software will be Open Source by
> definition. If it's so important to you to have this new license be
> OSI-approved, why not just plan to use a single-license approach,
> especially since you seem to concede that few if any users are likely
> to take you up on the GPLv3 option?

The single-license approach is definitely an option for us. If we were to
go that way, I'd want to know that the one license we chose was OSI

> On that point, your blog post makes much of the anticipated commercial
> resistance to the GPL. Do you then believe that this new license is
> likely to be significantly more commercially palatable than the GPL?

That's a good question. I have at least one conversation this week with
Medtronic (the largest device maker in our space) to see what they think
about the Tidepool license (I presume they won't touch GPL, but I will
find out that for sure, as well).

I have gotten feedback from two other commercial entities
(one small, one very large) that they'd rather we just use a well-known
permissive license like MIT, BSD or Apache. But that does accomplish
our "open access to data" desire.

> Your blog post seems in part to be a response to questions about why
> you have thus far kept your code private. You suggest that you have held
> off on making your software public while "figur[ing] out the right open
> source license to use". I can understand why you might wish to delay
> use of the new license because feedback here and elsewhere might reveal
> some remaining problems with the license text. But if you have decided
> on this dual-license approach, why then wouldn't you just release your
> software under GPLv3 immediately, and add the other license at some
> later date?

Excellent question. One reason is that we've gotten feedback that the
dual-license approach is falling out of favor, and my hope was they we could
"get it right" out of the gate. I've also gotten feedback that offering a dual license
creates more uncertainty than it is worth.

But you are correct, releasing under GPL and adding another license later
when we've figured out the right permissive license is indeed an valid and
important option that we should consider.


> - RF

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