[License-review] Request for Approval of Universal Permissive License (UPL)

Henrik Ingo henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
Fri Aug 29 09:12:43 UTC 2014

Hi Jim

Now I don't remember exactly why I became so involved in this review
in your last submission (maybe it was just a random moment I decided
to devote time to OSI...) but given how many opinions I had back then,
I now feel compelled to comment on this revision too.

On Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 9:12 PM, Jim Wright <jim.wright at oracle.com> wrote:
> This would be used
> with a larger works file containing something like following: The Reference
> Implementation of JSR-XXX Including Maintenance Releases as defined In the
> Java Community Process Program.
> There are three revisions to the license plus the larger works proposal
> here:
>  - One, it removes the reference to future versions of the Software and
> Larger Works from the base license text and pushes this, for the purpose of
> the JCP, to the larger works file, and limits the scope of those future
> versions in that larger works file to the final RI and Maintenance Releases.
> I deemed this ok for use in various other contexts as well, as you can
> recover all or some future versions of whatever you are seeking the license
> for by referring to it in the larger works file where appropriate.

This change, and in particular the example sentence given above, has
the effect of greatly limiting the scope of the patent grant compared
to the previous revision. In particular it makes sense that should
this piece of software one day no longer be part of, or a complete
Java reference implementation, there is also no longer a justification
for the author to have granted all of his patents to all of Java.


In the previous round of comments myself and some others pointed out
that the way the larger works file is setup doesn't accommodate for
workflows and code flows that are typical in the open source
community, where code snippets may propagate and merge into completely
different projects than those intended by the original author. (One
example given was that if Joe Hacker contributes code to Java, but
Google copies the same code into Android, then Oracle would benefit
from the patent grant but Google would not.)

This concern has mostly not been addressed in your new revision, but I
wanted to note that changing the scope of the patent grant actually
does impact this in 2 ways:
 - since the patent grant is more limited, one could say that likewise
is this concern. (E.g. Oracle and Google are still not equals, but the
grant to Oracle is more limited in scope so the difference is
 - If the "Larger work" is designated as "the reference implementation
of JSR-XXX" rather than "Java as published by Oracle", then arguably
if Google copies the whole RI into Android, it is still covered by the
patent grant.

Would you agree with my reading here?

>  - Two, it clarifies that arbitrary derivative works are not necessarily
> licensed for additional patent claims that might be infringed by changes
> (most folks did not interpret the license this way but because a couple
> asked about it, we clarified).

This refers to:

"...sold, copy, create derivative works of (provided that this does
not license additional patent claims beyond those covering the
unmodified Software and Larger Works), display, perform, distribute,
and sublicense the Software and the Larger Work(s) on either these or
other terms."

I appreciate that the text in parenthesis was added as a
clarification, however I'm afraid the current text can be read in the
other extreme instead: In practice it would often forbid creation of
any derivative works, since any non-trivial modification is more than
likely to infringe on somebody's patent, or at least that somebody
could easily claim that it does. For example, say that IBM is the
original author of some code to which I add some functionality, it's
clearly quite possible that my new functionality infringes on IBM's
vast patent portfolio. The above text could then be read as saying
that I'm not allowed to create a derivative work at all - not just
that the original patent grant doesn't extend to the derivative work.

I'm sorry as I'm neither a lawyer or native English speaker, I will
not attempt to come up with a better sentence, but I hope you
understand what I'm criticising here.


henrik.ingo at avoinelama.fi
+358-40-5697354        skype: henrik.ingo            irc: hingo

My LinkedIn profile: http://fi.linkedin.com/pub/henrik-ingo/3/232/8a7

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