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

McCoy Smith mccoy at lexpan.law
Thu Mar 5 16:03:25 UTC 2020

>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: License-review <license-review-bounces at lists.opensource.org> On Behalf Of Ben Ramsey
>>Sent: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 10:58 AM
>>To: OSI License Review List <license-review at lists.opensource.org>
>>Subject: [License-review] Request for Legacy Approval of PHP License 3.01


>>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].

Sorting through license approvals pre-2007 is not an easy task.  I've looked around a bit and don't see in license-discuss (where some of the approval discussions happened) where PHP was discussed, although it was at a minimum on the list by July 2006 since the License Proliferation Committee looked at it as part of its analysis: https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss_lists.opensource.org/2006-July/011635.html 

>>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.

I'd suggest that a better categorization for this license (and the predecessor 3.0) would be " Licenses that are redundant with more popular licenses " since this license appears to be nothing more than a customized-for-a-single-user version of BSD 4-Clause (a license which is *not* OSI approved); I'd suggest it is redundant with BSD 3-Clause, or 2-Clause, which *are* OSI approved.

>>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

I'd like to raise two provocative, and difficult, question here:  

1. Does this license, and it's predecessor PHP License 3.0, satisfy the OSD, specifically OSD 3? I'm thinking particularly about the following requirements:

  "4. Products derived from this software may not be called "PHP", nor may "PHP" appear in their name, without prior written permission from group at php.net.  You may indicate that your software works in conjunction with PHP by saying "Foo for PHP" instead of calling it "PHP Foo" or "phpfoo""

This seems to me a bit problematic given it's (AFAIK) not a registered trademark of the software authors. It appears to be restricting certain modifications of the software or the way that licensees may present modified versions of that software.
  "6. Redistributions of any form whatsoever must retain the following acknowledgment: "This product includes PHP software, freely available from <http://www.php.net/software/>"."

[BTW: I understand that similar sorts of provisions exist in other OSI-approved licenses; I'm raising the question of whether the general idea of mandatory modification restrictions or mandatory pseudo-trademark acknowledgement obligations are consistent with the OSD]

2. If this version is approved, will the steward voluntarily deprecate version 3.0, and if not, and if 3.01 is approved, should 3.0 be involuntarily deprecated?  I can imagine a scenario where the license list is filled with innumerable dot-releases of license upgrades unless a practice like that is adopted. [Yes, and I know that GPLv2 and GPLv3 are both on the list, but given the substantial differences between the two, that seems to me a different case]

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