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

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Thu Oct 24 17:42:31 UTC 2013

On Sun, 20 Oct 2013 21:01:24 -0700
Howard Look <howard at tidepool.org> wrote:
> == Concerns over what data needs to be made open ==
> Draft license text: “Health Data” means data pertaining to the
> physiological functions of a natural person, including any
> information or data specific to understanding the operation, safety
> or efficacy of a device or service that accompanies, is assistive in
> understanding, or generates such data.

Howard, can you clarify whether 'Health Data' can encompass software
itself (i.e., might not there be software that is 'specific for
understanding the operation safety or efficacy of a device or service
that accompanies, is assistive in understanding, or generates' Health
Data in a more intuitive sense)?

> For many research studies that use our code, we think that making the
> data open to patients _is_ practical, and so this license could
> apply. In cases where it's not practical (because it's interim,
> unpublished data, for example) a possible solution, at least for
> Tidepool, will be to make it clear to researchers that while we
> encourage them to make their data open to their study patients, they
> can approach us (Tidepool) about licensing our code under different
> license terms.

If there is an issue as to this point wrt whether the license is 'Open
Source' (I'm not saying there is), I consider the argument that 'if
it's too burdensome, they can always ask for a different license'
> == Concern about dual-license approach and GPL ==
> (This point is a bit orthogonal to seeking OSI approval for the
> Tidepool license, but it is addressed in the blog post that we
> referenced in our request for approval, we got several comments on it
> private messages.)
> Several folks have encouraged us to _not_ use a dual license approach
> as it creates downstream confusion about how to apply the license and
> has fallen out of favor.

Possibly off-topic but I find the 'fallen out of favor' odd. It seems
that there may be a confusion between 'proprietary/open source dual
licensing' (which I agree has fallen out of favor) and 'disjunctive
open source dual-licensing) (which is about as common as it ever has

> Some of these same folks, as well as other
> folks, have encouraged us to not refer to GPL or copyleft at all in
> our license strategy, since that will scare away most enterprises. As
> indicated in our blog post, our intent is to encourage the broadest
> possible adoption, while maintaining an open data requirement.

I think I asked this before, and I apologize if you answered it, but I
am curious why you think your license is inherently less scary than the

Let me ask you this, though it is seemingly off topic: What will you do
if you find that enterprises turn out to be just as fearful of your
license as you believe they are of the GPL?

- RF

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