[License-review] [Was: Submission of OSET Public License for Approval] -- National Security and Public Policy (3.5B and 4)

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Thu Sep 17 15:59:36 UTC 2015

On Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 10:42:01AM -0500, Josh Berkus wrote:
> On 09/16/2015 08:11 PM, Meeker, Heather J. wrote:
> > Understood, and by implication I gather you would also not contribute to any project under a permissive license.
> > 
> Nope, because I already do (which you'd realize if you googled me).  The
> issue is one of asymmetry.
> If I contribute to OSET under the OSET license, and I have to obey the
> terms of the OSET license if I want to use the OSET software in my own
> business.  But governments, and favored contractors with complaint
> legislators, or even just corrupt beaurocrats, get to use my
> contribution *without* the restrictions which I must obey.  So the OSET
> license creates a 2-class system, in which people with access to the
> levers of government have more rights than code contributors do.
> Personally I think corrupt legislators and beaurocrats have enough power
> already.  We don't need to give them more in the terms of a license.
> This is materially identical to dual-licensing, where companies offer
> code under the GPL, but also commercially license it.  I don't
> contribute to those projects either (and neither does anyone else,
> historically).  Imagine if someone asked us to certify a license which
> said "corporations can ignore any provision of this license which
> conflicts with company policy".  This would not be an OSS license.

Actually, I think such a license could be demonstrably OSD-conformant
(or, to make this easier, conformant to the similar-in-spirit Free
Software Definition of the FSF). But it is inconceivable that the OSI
would approve such a license, and it might, and maybe does, expose
some inadequacy in the Open Source Definition or some overly-literal
interpretations of it.

> Due to this provision, I see the OSET license as presented as being in
> violation of the OSD, and would not currently vote to certify it.

I'm not sure whether I agree yet but I think you've raised a very
important concern.


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