[License-review] Approval: BSD + Patent License

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Wed Jan 20 23:55:42 UTC 2016

If this license were more complex I might agree about consultation
with the FSF, but the likelihood of the FSF saying this license is not
GPLv2 compatible seems very low to me based on their past statements
about other licenses. 

On Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 02:35:49PM +0000, Tzeng, Nigel H. wrote:
> The license is short so review by the FSF should be quick.  If someone is
> requesting a “niche use” license is it unreasonable to say “prove to me that it
> actually fills that niche”?  However unlikely what if the FSF says “No” or just
> doesn’t answer for a while?
> I am also curious why UPL isn’t good enough.  Because UPL is a re-worded MIT
> license with patent grant:
>     What is the UPL and why did you create it?
>     The UPL is a highly permissive license, including both copyright and patent
>     licenses, which permits use and relicensing under both copyleft and
>     commercial terms, and also facilitates use as a contributor license
>     agreement.
>     It was originally borne out of a discussion in the Java Community Process
>     around what it would take to permit collaboration on JSR reference
>     implementations in open source forges without the necessity of
>     collaborators signing the JSPA or an Oracle Contributor Agreement. In order
>     to accommodate the broadest possible use case, the license needed to
>     include an express patent license and to be broadly agreed to be GPLv2,
>     GPLv2+Classpath Exception, CDDL, and commercial license compatible,
>     including the ability to cut and paste code between modules, and while it
>     is almost universally agreed among those knowledgeable in FOSS licensing
>     that license proliferation is something to be avoided without good cause,
>     since a license meeting these relatively simple and obvious criteria did
>     not exist, it was decided to draft one.
>     Drafting started with the MIT license, and after a lot of discussion with
>     other open source lawyers, developers, members of the Java Community
>     Process Executive Committee, and reviewers and board members of the Open
>     Source Initiative, and several rounds of revision, finally arrived at the
>     vetted license text you see here. The license was approved by the OSI as
>     conforming with the Open Source Definition and non-duplicative of existing
>     permissive licenses in February 2015.”
>     Can you point to some concrete problems the UPL solves that you could not
>     have addressed with the MIT, BSD or Apache licenses?
>     The most important problem the UPL solves is the inclusion of an express
>     patent license in a license that is both broadly agreed to be uniformly
>     copyleft compatible and also permits the software to be freely used in
>     commercially licensed software (i.e., without concerns about reciprocal
>     license obligations).  
>     The MIT and BSD licenses do not include express patent licenses, and while
>     many argue that there is an implied patent license, there is nontrivial
>     debate about the existence & scope of any such implied license.  This is
>     addressed in some more detail below.  The Apache license, on the other
>     hand, is argued by some not to be GPLv2 compatible, which makes it tricky
>     to use in connection with GPLv2 licensed code – the GPLv2 is still by far
>     the most popular open source license, and unambiguous, undisputed GPL
>     compatibility was a crucial qualifier for any license considered for use in
>     the JCP.  (Even the BSD license has been argued not to be GPL compatible –
>     while this need not be addressed here, and it is not the conclusion of the
>     FSF or most others, by virtue of expressly permitting relicensing on other
>     terms, the UPL is definitively and fully GPLv2 compatible.)
> https://oss.oracle.com/licenses/upl/#_What_is_the_1
> So exactly why do we need a BSD variant with patent grant when we already have
> a MIT variant with a patent grant that the FSF has already publicly agreed as
> GPL V2 compliant on their website?
> All of a sudden license proliferation is a non-issue?  That’s fine by me as
> I’ve never been that much of a fan of that concern.
> Are any of the other concerns voiced two years ago about UPL any better
> addressed by BSD+Patent Grant?  I guess without the Larger Works clause there
> is one less file to look for.
> However, I would ask that if the BSD+PL:
> “(b) by combination of their copyrighted material with the work of authorship
> to which such copyrighted material was added by such copyright holder or
> contributor, if, at the time the copyrighted material was added, such addition
> causes such combination to be covered by the patent claim. The patent license
> shall not apply to any other combinations which include their copyrighted
> material. “
> better fulfills the same role as the UPL:
> “(b) any piece of software and/or hardware listed in the lrgrwrks.txt file if
> one is included with the Software (each a “Larger Work” to which the Software
> is contributed by such licensors),”
> Because at least the lrgrwkrs.txt file is explicit.  
> Q. Does using the “at the time the copyrighted material was added” phrase means
> that if I want to do my due diligence I need to look at commit times and when
> patents were granted to make sure someone hasn’t submarined a patent in there?
> Q: What happens if someone commits changes to a BSD+PL licensed reference
> implementation that at the time of commit there isn’t a patent BUT later on
> they apply for and a patent is granted to them?  Do I have a patent license or
> not?  
> Regards,
> Nigel
> On 1/19/16, 11:57 PM, "License-review on behalf of Josh Berkus" <
> license-review-bounces at opensource.org on behalf of josh at postgresql.org> wrote:
>     On 01/19/2016 06:12 PM, Mike Milinkovich wrote:
>         Wow, this thread has degraded to the point of silliness.
>         Every OSI Board member who has commented on this license has said
>         positive things about it. It's a good license. It fills a niche that we
>         have long wanted filled.
>     Yes, and I have an *immediate* use for such a license.
>     I haven't seen an attorney weigh in on the patent grant issues inherent
>     in a liberal patent-grant license.  Has one posted a review elsewhere?
>     --
>     Josh Berkus
>     PostgreSQL Project
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