[License-review] For Approval: Rewrite of License Zero Reciprocal Public License

Kyle Mitchell kyle at kemitchell.com
Fri Oct 27 20:29:35 UTC 2017

This message revises the text of The License Zero Reciprocal
Public License proposed for OSI approval.  I also recap and
revise answers to the "How to Submit A Request"
questionnaire at https://opensource.org/approval below, to
keep things current and in one place.

At the urging of several reviewers, this text was written
from scratch, not from BSD-2-Clause.  As a result, there is
more "surface area" of new language.  Hopefully that's
offset by improved structure and clarity.

In process terms, I'd appreciate input on how to make this
submission ready for report to the board, when that might
happen, and if or how I should go about revising the
proposed text in response to further feedback.  On my end,
I'd prefer to consolidate input and batch edits, should they
prove necessary.  It's been tough for folks to keep track of
the latest without centralized revision control.

Revision History:



(resending the initial proposal message, which was not
delivered to the list on first try)


(reporting revisions from private feedback since the
initial, failed proposal message)



(addressing feedback from license-review)



(addressing more feedback, and utilizing more of
BSD-2-Clause verbatim)

Submission: [No Change]

I am submitting the License Zero Reciprocal Public License
(L0-R) for approval as an Open Source license on behalf of
Artless Devices LLC.  Artless Devices LLC is a California
business entity, and I am its sole member and manager.  The
company operates licensezero.com, a software dual-licensing
and relicensing agency.

Rationale: [No Change]

L0-R aims to implement a clear and stronger-than-strong
variant of copyleft, minimizing community-side legal
pondering and maximizing dual-licensing opportunity.

Distinguish: [Updated]

1. L0-R is an original license, structured like the classic
   "academic" licenses, with a copyright notice, broad grant
   of permission, notice retention conditions, and
   disclaimer.  However, L0-R aims to be plainer in style,
   using legal terms of art when appropriate, but eschewing
   needless legal style.

2. Unlike other academic-style licenses, L0-R includes
   reciprocity, or copyleft, conditions.

3. Unlike GPL, LGPL, and AGPL, L0-R's reciprocity
   requirements trigger on modification and development of
   other software.  (They also trigger on incorporation into
   other software.)  L0-R's triggers are _not_ tied
   specifically to distribution as under GPL, or
   quasi-distribution use as under AGPL.  Rather, L0-R
   applies reciprocity conditions to actions that
   unavoidably require exercise of granted permissions,
   without necessarily naming the precise exclusive rights
   of copyright holders that trigger in each case.  This
   approach is in line with drafting practice for conditions
   in proprietary license agreements, such as
   concurrent-user and running-instance limits.

4. Unlike previously approved copyleft licenses of which I'm
   aware, L0-R _requires_ sharing.  Previous drafts
   permitted use with private modifications and
   incorporating software for a stated, limited time,
   without sharing.  That language has been removed in
   response to reviewer concerns about OSD 6 conformance,
   which I must admit I don't yet entirely understand.  I
   would like to include such a "safe harbor" if I can
   within OSD.

5. Unlike existing copyleft licenses, L0-R offers more
   flexibility in the terms licensees can apply to subject
   source code.  Licensees _may_ use L0-R's terms, but may
   also use any terms approved by the Open Source
   Initiative.  This is akin to the special, mutual
   allowance between GPL and AGPL, under their respective
   section 13 terms, extended to whole OSI roster.
   License restrictions apply only to additional code, and
   don't allow or require relicensing of L0-R work.

6. Like (A)GPL-3.0, L0-R builds in automatic, retroactive
   forgiveness for unknowing violation of reciprocity
   conditions, on required publication of source code within
   a set time after becoming aware of the need.

7. Unlike MIT, BSD, and their progeny, L0-R grants explicit
   copyright and patent permission, with a lightweight
   patent termination provision.  I tried to avoid bringing
   this in scope by reuse of BSD-2-Clause as a basis for
   prior drafts.  But no license written from scratch in
   2017 can ignore the patent issue.

8. The patent scope language is similar in approach to
   Apache-2.0, MPL-2.0, and others, covering patents that
   reach a contributors' contributions, with the existing
   code to which they contributed.  Contributors do _not_
   license patents they obtain that come to read on the
   whole software, by virtue of others' contributions.

9. Patent termination language is also in line with priors,
   though much condensed.  The relevant language is a
   condition of all permission granted, so it affects
   copyright permission, as well as patent permission.  This
   is unlike Apache-2.0, but in line with MPL-2.0 and
   GPL-3.0.  Termination triggers on claims against the
   software or derivatives, but only if the patent reads on
   the software as provided, before any additional changes.
   That's in line with Apache-2.0.

Legal Review: [No Change]

I am a licensing lawyer, I took the first drafts,
and I made the first revisions.  I've been
fortunate to receive very generous private
feedback from fellow attorneys, but I will stand
behind this proposal alone.

Proliferation Category: [Updated]


L0-R is not yet in wide current use, and I will not
recommend it for use until its text stabilizes and its OSI
status is clear.  It's a goal of the project to conform to
the Open Source Definition.

I believe L0-R does enough that's new and useful to warrant
review.  I believe it would proliferate new ideas.

I would also be interested in the correct process for, and
results of, reviewing L0-R assuming waiver of its copyleft
conditions---from number 3 to the end.  I suspect the
remainder would be classed "Redundant", especially of

Plain Text: [Updated]

The plain text of the license follows.  Text set <like this>
denotes a placeholder.

  License Zero Reciprocal Public License <Version>

  Copyright: <Name>

  Source: <URI or instructions>

  **This software comes as is, without any warranty at all.
  As far as the law allows, those giving this license will
  not be liable for any damages related to this software or
  this license, for any kind of legal claim.**

  You may do everything with this software that would
  otherwise infringe copyright in this software, or any patent
  anyone giving this license has or obtains that would have
  read on this software just after any of their contributions,
  on these conditions:

  1. You must ensure that everyone who gets a copy of this
     software from you, in source code or any other form, also
     gets the complete text of this license and the copyright
     and source notices above.

  2. You may not make any legal claim against anyone accusing
     this software, or any derivative work based on it, of
     infringing any patent that would read on this software
     alone, without modification or extension.

  3. If you modify or extend this software, you must release
     source code for your modification or extension.

  4. If you include this software in a larger piece of
     software, you must release any source code for that
     larger piece of software that has not yet been released.

  5. If you run this software to analyze, modify, or generate
     software, you must release source code for that software.

  To release source code, you must license it to the public
  under either these terms or terms approved by the Open
  Source Initiative, and promptly publish it, in the preferred
  form for making modifications, to a freely accessible
  distribution system widely used for similarly licensed
  source code.

  Any unknowing failure to meet condition 3, 4, or 5 is
  excused if you release source code as required within 30
  days of becoming aware of the failure.

Thanks to all for continued and valuable interest and



Kyle Mitchell, attorney // Oakland // (510) 712 - 0933

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