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

Simon Phipps simon at webmink.com
Thu Sep 24 11:23:13 UTC 2015

Hi Simon,

Many thanks for your thoughtful work and for engaging with OSI. The
following comments are offered in the spirit of contribution and
improvement. These notes are from an initial scan of the licenses and are
concise; I'll be happy to explain the thinking behind any of them that
aren't clear. My apologies for any misunderstandings or omissions, and for
any errors arising from the fact I am not a lawyer.


   - I am concerned by the similarity of the names of the licenses. While
   the language in all three is common, they are different in effect, yet the
   names can be readily confused. Would it be better to pick more distinct
   names for them?
   - One of the goals of a good open source license is to give developers
   the certainty that they have permission granted in advance
   for any use they may desire for the code. If it is reasonably necessary to
   consult a legal or other adviser, or the project creator, or any other
   party, to determine whether the use they anticipate will be acceptable,
   they don't have certainty. I'm referring to that concept below when I
   mention "giving certainty".


   1. In section 3, what is the intent of the limitation of license grant
   "for all practical purposes"?
   2. In section 3, does "a form allowing it to be modified" include the
   build files and/or other elements of the build environment?
   3. In section 3, the prohibition on commercial use implied by "without
   additional charges other than reasonable charges for delivery" seems
   problematic and potentially violates OSD-1
   4. In the same clause, the word "distribution" as defined in the
   recitals does not appear to give certainty.
   5. In section 4, would the requirement in (2) be satisfied by the author
   of the modification adding their own copyright to the file? I tend to agree
   with other comments that this requirement tends to be ignored in other
   places it exists and you may prefer to make it a "should" rather than a
   6. In section 5, if there is a separate agreement, why is the clause
   7. In section 9, termination should probably be on notification of the
   failure rather than on discovery.
   8. In section 9 the use of the word "may" on restoration limits
   9. In section 11, the requirement not to mention you in modified
   versions should probably allow mention that the license is derived from
   this license.

The concerns above also apply.

   1. In section 4.2, I suggest you also add CDDL as explicitly compatible
   2. In section 4.2, the maintenance of this list concerns me, I wonder if
   you should for example add a clause saying that you will also publish a
   list of other compatible licenses on your web site?
   3. In section 4.2, why not also allow the licenses in R+ to also be
   considered compatible? MPLv2 does this, and there are license (such as EPL)
   which are arguably in this middle level of reciprocity as well.

The concerns above also apply

Best regards

Simon Phipps

*Simon Phipps*  http://webmink.com
*Meshed Insights Ltd *
*Office:* +1 (415) 683-7660 *or* +44 (238) 098 7027
*Mobile*:  +44 774 776 2816

On Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 8:25 PM, <Simon.Johnson-Begin at cspq.gouv.qc.ca>

> The Government of Québec is requesting approval of the Québec Free and
> Open-Source Licence (LiLiQ), a set of three licenses: LiLiQ-P, LiLiQ-R and
> LiLiQ-R+. The approval category is the proposed new category of
> "International Licenses" (see:
> https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss/2015-June/001857.html
> ).
> 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 ]). This has led the Government
> to considerations regarding the choice of a free and open source (FOSS)
> license to distribute this specific software, but also for other softwares
> on which the Government is currently working on. In order to choose an
> appropriate software license, the Government of Québec had to consider the
> following points:
> - The legal obligation for the Government of Québec and its agencies to
> conclude contracts in French;
> - A license that meets Québec civil law and Canadian copyright law
> requirements;
> - A license as much as possible consistent with the FOSS philosophy,
> notably ensuring compatibility between FOSS software licensed under
> different terms;
> - The necessity to offer a license or a set of licenses that meets the
> main purposes in FOSS licensing;
> - The opportunity to put forward a FOSS license that would help Québec's
> citizens, corporations and non-profit organizations to build and distribute
> FOSS softwares;
> - The concern to elaborate a license as simple as possible, with different
> reciprocity (copyleft) levels, while maintaining compatibility with other
> well known FOSS licenses.
> In regard of those concerns, we took the following steps :
> 1. Survey of existing major FOSS licenses (BSD, Apache, GPL v2 et v3,
> 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.
> Given these constraints, it appeared more appropriate to draft our own
> license. A comprehensive review of existing FOSS licenses was conducted in
> order to retain what seemed to us some of the best practices.
> 3. Drafting a set of three different licenses that meets the main purposes
> in FOSS licensing
> Three different versions of the license have been drafted to express
> different levels of reciprocity (copyleft).
> a) LiLiQ-P, is a permissive license that does not impose any reciprocity
> obligations.  It is therefore possible for a licensee to modify and
> distribute a software under the LiLiQ-P without the obligation to share the
> source code. Such softwares can be embedded in a proprietary software
> product.
> b) The LiLiQ-R (reciprocity) and LiLiQ-R+ (strong reciprocity) aim to
> preserve the openness of the software. Thus, anyone who modifies and
> distribute such software is required to do so under the terms of the LiLiQ
> and to allow access to the source code. The LiLiQ-R applies to modified
> software and the LiLiQ-R+ applies to both modified and derived softwares.
> c) Both LiLiQ-R et LiLiQ-R+ have a broad, liberal and innovative
> compatibility clause which allows a licensee, under certain conditions, to
> combine a software licensed under the LiLiQ to a software subject to
> another FOSS license.
> 4. Other considerations
> The LiLiQ was also written to respect the philosophy of FOSS software.
> The LiLiQ is a true copyright license, not an “end user agreement”.  There
> is no need to agree to the terms of the license to merely use a software
> licensed under the LiLiQ.
>> To conclude, the LiLiQ was drafted to comply with the French language
> requirements, and also to take account of the Québec civil law and Canadian
> copyright law requirements and wording. Overall, the LiLiQ remains simple,
> concise and sticks to what is necessary to reduce the risk of
> contradictions with major FOSS licensing. The LiLiQ has been drafted to
> address the needs of the Government of Québec without impairing its use by
> the general population, inside or outside Québec, public or private alike.
> The LiLiQ is a true FOSS license that propose some innovations while in
> compliance with the wording requirements of our laws and in accordance with
> the FOSS movement.
> English version of the licenses:
> https://www.forge.gouv.qc.ca/participez/licence-logicielle/licence-libre-du-quebec-liliq-in-english/
> French version of the licenses:
> https://www.forge.gouv.qc.ca/participez/licence-logicielle/licence-libre-du-quebec-liliq-en-francais/
> Please take note that an affidavit from the translator stating that the
> contents of the translation are a true translation and representation of
> the contents of the original licences will follow.
> Thank you for your consideration.
> 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
> Veuillez prendre note que ce courriel est strictement confidentiel. Il est
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