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

VanL van.lindberg at gmail.com
Thu Mar 5 17:06:34 UTC 2020

Hi McCoy,

These are interesting questions.

On Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 10:04 AM McCoy Smith <mccoy at lexpan.law> wrote:

> 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.

My first instinct is to point out that registration is not required to have
an enforceable mark. PHP is pretty well-known in its space, and so I
wouldn't be surprised if this provision were fully enforceable under common
law trademark provisions, and, if needed, the PHP project could get a
registration pretty quickly as the senior user.

>   "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]

More broadly, I don't see a problem OSD #3-wise with limitations on
trademark rights, assuming that they don't try to tramp on nominative use.

> 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]

I foresee a future in which we have almost as many approved licenses in the
"legacy" category as there are license variations labeled by SPDX. License
proliferation is a problem, but I am not sure it is *today's* problem.

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