[License-review] Approval: Server Side Public License, Version 2 (SSPL v2)

Kyle Mitchell kyle at kemitchell.com
Mon Feb 18 05:48:31 UTC 2019


You have been consistent.  But so have I.

If OSD 6 banned any kind of discrimination whatsoever in
terms, GPLv2 discriminated against proprietary software
makers.  RMS said so, and he was very right.

If OSD 6 banned any kind of discrimination in intent or
predicted effect, AGPL and OSL went after SaaS companies,
CPL and MPL against proprietary forks.  Triggering copyleft
in any new or selective way, whether as compared to prior
licenses, like network copyleft, or more generally, like
weak copyleft: they all discriminate.  Arguably, GPLv3 was
discriminatory with AGPLv3 already to hand.  But they
discriminated by daring others to make more open source.

There should be a new, crisp, clear rule on open source
copyleft scope.  OSD 9 isn't it.  You mentioned the
"distribute" problem yourself.  I've pointed out that the
examples, comparing to DFSG, and Debian's concerns more
generally, make OSD 9 a nice, clear rule.  But not about
building software, and certainly not about what "derived
work" as synonym for "derivative work" means or meant twenty
years ago.

Last, the scarlet letter Mongo's people have been made to
wear for coming as a business corporation.  Relevant or not
here?  If not, why does it come up so often?  If so, what
about "free software for companies", and the history of
licenses approved, by and for explicit commercial use?  Out
the window, now that open source "won" and all the biggest
dogs are sponsors?

There's no clear path here to actually answering those
questions, either to collective satisfaction or to a shared
feeling of correctness.  We bottom out on appeals to
credibility, authority, and in-group obviousness.  That's
what they look like.  But I get the feeling they point back
to a momentary, long-past feeling of shared clarity, back at
the spark of the organization.  Those memories, and the
ready consensus feeling among those who can share them, must
be very dear.

They can't register with me, emotionally or as arguments.
They don't convince me, because I can't convince anyone else
with them.  When I'm 64, and some poor wonk of a kid asks
how OSD 9, now ensconced more or less like the building
code, both is and isn't about distribution, I can forward.
But if they've got any spark of their own at all, their eyes
will only roll.

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

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