[License-review] Request for Legacy Approval of PHP License 3.01

Lukas Atkinson opensource at lukasatkinson.de
Thu Mar 5 11:44:48 UTC 2020

While approval of PHP 3.01 looks like a no-brainer, requiring approval for
such changes seems problematic. How can this be avoided in the future?

All that changed between versions was the phrasing of attribution notices:

- "This product includes PHP, freely available from <http://www.php.net/>".
+ "This product includes PHP software, freely available from <

- This product includes the Zend Engine, freely available at <
+ PHP includes the Zend Engine, freely available at <http://www.zend.com>.

Arguably, the second change isn't even part of the license terms.

If the specific content of the notices were replaced with a placeholder,
they could be updated in the future without affecting the approved license.
This would be similar to how Apache 2.0 and additional terms in GPLv3 treat
attribution notices. Placeholders are also used in the OFL, the GPL's
notices suggested by the “How to apply these terms to your new programs”
appendix, and other approved licenses.

Would such a parametrization be sensible, or would that be be unsuitable,
given that this is a non-reusable license anyway?

Regarding the problem that “The fact that 3.0 and 3.01 are substantively
identical is no use to us at all”, I think it's impossible to satisfy
requests for byte-identical licenses in general. I'd argue that is a
problem with the downstream policy. Does OSI have any resources on good
open source policies, e.g. whether “all open source dependencies MUST have
an OSI-approved license” would be recommended?

On Thu, 5 Mar 2020 at 10:07, Ben Ramsey <ben at benramsey.com> wrote:

> Rationale:
> According to the commit history[1] for its LICENSE file, the PHP
> License 3.0 was published on July 21, 2002. I've been unable to find
> any historical discussions related to the approval of the PHP License
> by the OSI, but the license has been listed on the OSI website as an
> approved license since at least 2006[2][3].
> On January 1, 2006, a slight modification was made to the PHP License
> for clarification[4]. As a result of this change, the license number
> was bumped to 3.01 and has remained at this version number ever since.
> The 3.01 version, however, was never added to the OSI list of approved
> licenses, and this causes a problem for some organizations who mandate
> the use of software with OSI-approved licenses.
> A recent post[5] to the PHP General mailing list raised this issue:
> > My team’s ability to use the phpdbg utility hinges on OSI approval of
> > its license. Language at https://www.php.net/license/ indicates that
> > the PHP 3.01 license is OSI approved, but OSI disagrees;
> > https://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical shows approval only of
> > the PHP 3.0 license. (The fact that 3.0 and 3.01 are substantively
> > identical is no use to us at all.)
> I am submitting this formal request for review on behalf of the PHP
> internals[6][7].
> Proliferation category:
> Non-reusable licenses
> This is the category under which the current PHP License 3.0 falls, as
> an OSI-approved license.
> Please find attached the full text of the PHP License 3.01. It is also
> available at https://www.php.net/license/3_01.txt
> [1]: https://github.com/php/php-src/commits/master/LICENSE
> [2]:
> https://web.archive.org/web/20060407033057/http://www.opensource.org/licenses/php.php
> [3]: https://opensource.org/licenses/PHP-3.0
> [4]:
> https://github.com/php/php-src/commit/56567d31b331d3ab7814b36867579116eb14da86
> [5]: https://news-web.php.net/php.general/327010
> [6]: https://news-web.php.net/php.internals/108847
> [7]: https://news-web.php.net/php.internals/108848
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