[License-review] International Licenses: Québec Free and Open-Source Licence (LiLiQ)

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Thu Sep 17 00:32:01 UTC 2015


I understand the desire for all your licenses and contracts to be in French. But surely the Québec government can't assume that all open source software it acquires or redistributes will be under a French language license. Haven't you dealt with other languages already? Or don't you use GPL, Mozilla, Apache and Eclipse software there?


-----Original Message-----
From: Simon.Johnson-Begin at cspq.gouv.qc.ca [mailto:Simon.Johnson-Begin at cspq.gouv.qc.ca] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3:01 PM
To: license-review at opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-review] International Licenses: Québec Free and Open-Source Licence (LiLiQ)

Hi Gervase,

>Does the government have specific software that it plans to release 
>under each of the three licenses, or is one or more of the licenses 
>"speculative" in that you've created it to fill a logical space in the 
>range but have no software yet that you wants to release under it?

Yes, there are plans to release software under the LiLiQ-P and LiLiQ-R and probably also under the LiLiQ-R+. Some agencies and other government departments specifically requested the opportunity to have licenses with different levels of copyleft. As a government, we also need to to offer the option to opt for the license that fits the most the needs of a specific organization. Also, offering a set of licenses is driven by the need to have some coherence in the development of free software by the public administration. It would not be wise that departments and agencies use different licenses for the same level of copyright. Also, it is not impossible that the LiLiQ licenses could be introduced in call for tenders documents. Finally, it is in the civil law spirit that, as you pointed us, to fill a logical space in the range of open source licenses types.

>You later say "There is no need to agree to the terms of the license to 
>merely use a software licensed under the LiLiQ." Therefore surely LiLiQ 
>is not a contract, but a license, and this requirement is not relevant?

We understand your point. But in our case, we must take into account the civil law. In civil law, a license is a type of contract. In our specific case, it is a copyright license contract, between a licensor and a licensee. In most cases, any department or agency of our government would be a licensor and anyone who exercises the rights granted by the license would be a licensee. There would still be a contract between a licensor and a licensee, but only when a right granted by the license is exercised. In other words, someone who merely download and use a software under the LiLiQ is not a licensee and as such, you are right to say that there is no contract between that person and the department or agency. However, there is always the possibility that a contract might be concluded at a later time if any right is exercised. If such a contract is formed, the law generally states that this contract must be in french.

>Other than the government of Québec, do you know of another Québecois 
>organization which has found the lack of a license like LiLiQ a barrier 
>to them releasing software as FOSS?

Yes, for example, cities such as the City of Montréal or health care agencies are interested in releasing software under the LiLiQ, for similar reasons. On the other hand, copyright law is not something that is very well understood by everyone. Our licenses are also a way to introduce a good way to manage software copyright by the departments and agencies of our government.

>Just as a point of fact, this is not true of all licenses. For example, 
>the MPL 2.0 section 10.3:

>"If you create software not governed by this License, and you want to 
>create a new license for such software, you may create and use a 
>modified version of this License if you rename the license and remove 
>any references to the name of the license steward (except to note that 
>such modified license differs from this License)."

>Also, existing historical licenses such as the MIT and BSD effectively
do not have a copyright owner; people make modified versions of them all the time.

That is indeed a very good point. But adapting such a license would, in the end, still be considered as a new license. There is also the fact that we wanted, at least for software developed by departments and agencies, to clearly state that the licence is governed by the applicable laws in Québec and, in the event of a dispute, the courts of Québec have sole jurisdiction.

I hope this helps,


Simon Johnson-Bégin, avocat  | Direction des affaires juridiques Centre de services partagés du Québec | 875, Grande Allée Est, 4e étage, Québec (Québec) G1R 5W5 Tél. : 418 644-7934  | Téléc. : 418 646-0105 simon.johnson-begin at cspq.gouv.qc.ca | www.cspq.gouv.qc.ca

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