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

Christopher Sean Morrison brlcad at mac.com
Thu Sep 17 05:01:18 UTC 2015

> In 2015, the Government of Québec has released the source code of a geomatics software that took years to create (IGO – [ https://github.com/infra-geo-ouverte/igo ]).

Kudos and appreciation!  Always thrilled to see other Government open source efforts!  It’s the good fight.  Let me preface my comments saying they have no bearing on your OSI approval and are but a layman review.

> - The concern to elaborate a license as simple as possible, with different reciprocity (copyleft) levels, while maintaining compatibility with other well known FOSS licenses.

Wow, that sounds like an incredibly complex set of objectives for (several) legal documents written in a different language from those licenses you aim to be compatible with (even with a certified translation, legal nuance).

> 1. Survey of existing major FOSS licenses (BSD, Apache, GPL v2 et v3, LGPL, CECILL, EUPL, MPL, etc.).
> Findings : Most licenses are written in English without official translations in French.  This fact alone ruled out most of the licenses, since all contracts entered into by the civil administration must be written in French according to the Charter of the French language act. The licenses that have official French versions were considered but some of their provisions were not acceptable for our Government.
> 2. Adapt an existing license.
> Findings : To adapt an existing license requires the copyright owner authorization which can be subject to an heavy authorization process.  Despite the fact that an existing license would had been used, the adapted one would have still be considered as a new license, albeit very similar to the original.

This seems highly foreign to me, pun intended.  I would be surprised if anyone would have any standing under US copyright law in asserting a copyright claim on license terms.  Is that tested or different under Canadian copyright law?  It’s akin to a recipe or formula and, regardless, would seem contrary to the very nature and intended function of license terms.  Given that, I’m surprised you didn’t consider “1.5 Translate an existing license".

Certified translation from a backing Government body would certainly add weight to translation credibility and limit license proliferation.  There are 83 languages spoken by at least 10 million people .. imagine the mess if even half did their own LiLiQ trios.  Egads!

> English version of the licenses:
> https://www.forge.gouv.qc.ca/participez/licence-logicielle/licence-libre-du-quebec-liliq-in-english/

3.4 seems problematic.  What happens when FSF or OSI rescind an approval/certification — and it’s not fully clear to me what those terms mean regarding the FSF. 

4.2 seems problematic for certain file types (e.g., image files, zip files, other binary files, certain rigidly structured ascii files, etc).  Could be perceived as a GPL/LGPL incompatibility.

Overall a nice license, but the overlap of the English version with existing licenses is hard to ignore as substantially duplicative.  I recognize that this is by design and premised on the  French requirement.


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