[License-review] Approval Request: Free Public License 1.0.0

Tim Makarios tjm1983 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 7 00:53:25 UTC 2015

On Mon, 2015-08-31 at 03:27 -0700, Rick Moen wrote:
> I see this as an intelligent and respect-worthy expression of the
> recurring effort to create a permissive licence that's absolutely 
> as close as humanly possible to nullifying copyright, within the
> Berne Convention regime we all must contend with. [...]
> Nothing in FPL 1.0.0 strikes me as OSD-problematic, at a quick glance.
> And I'll even call it innovative, to my eyes.
> Nonetheless, I'd like to register my view that a key aim and component
> of your licence is very unwise: the omission of copyright notice,
> omission of the requirement to retain the permission notice, and omission 
> of the requirement to retain the copyright notice in all copies.

> [...]

> The above are, honestly, addressed primarily to OSI itself, because 
> FPL 1.0.0 strikes me as well drafted to achieve a specific effect,
> and so conclude that you at Fraction know what you are doing.  If I felt
> otherwise, I'd be trying to persuade you it's a bad idea.  Instead, 
> I'll just say to OSI that I hope it will feel no desire to approve 
> a permissive licence that creates this class of problem. 

So, just to be clear, you're recommending that the OSI rejects the FPL
because it refrains from placing certain requirements on the licensee?
Is that right?

It strikes me as counter-intuitive that the OSI would reject an
"innovative", "well drafted" licence that satisfies the OSD because it
gives licensees *too much* freedom.

If the OSI rejects licences for too great a variety of reasons (other
than that they're duplicative, poorly or unenforceably written, or fail
to satisfy the OSD), then they'll be driving an unnecessary wedge
between the question "Is this software open source?" and the question
"Is its licence approved by the OSI?".  And to put freedom on the
opposite side of the wedge from the list of approved licences seems
particularly strange to me.

One way to reject the FPL without pushing a wedge between those two
questions would be to amend the OSD to exclude licences that allow
licensees to remove copyright and licence notices, which Josh Berkus
seems to have suggested as a possibility.  This seems even more
counter-intuitive to me, since it would seem to imply that software
whose source code is publicly available and *in the public domain*
(through whatever means) could not be called "open source" according to
the OSD (unless, perhaps, it was also available under a more restrictive

Of course, the OSI isn't obliged to conform to my intuitions about what
"open source" means, and certainly isn't obliged to conform to my
intuitions about good reasons for rejecting licences.  But I expect I
wouldn't be the only person to be surprised if the OSI decided to reject
a licence on the grounds that it would make the software too free to be
called "open source".


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