Free World Licence and clauses 5,6,8 & 9 of OSS definition.

Ross N. Williams ross at
Tue Oct 19 01:54:24 UTC 1999

OK Folks,

Thanks for your comments on the Free World Licence (FWL) idea. Here are my
arguments in defence of the FWL in relation to clauses 5,6,8 & 9 of the
Open Source definition, which have been named as excluding the FWL from
the stamp "Open Source".

% 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups.
%    The license must not discriminate against any person
%    or group of persons.

I presume that this clause in the OSS was designed to prevent licences
that restrict use by particular racial groups or countries and so on. The
FWL licence does not discriminate on the basis of any property of a person
or group of persons in their own right. It discriminates only on the basis
with the technology they are using (free vs non-free platform).

I can also argue that 50%+ of existing open source software
discriminates on the same basis TECHNICALLY.

% 6. No Discrimination Against Fields Of Endeavour.
%  The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a
% specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program
% from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

The FWL does not discriminate against any field of endeavour unless
you argue that there is an implicit correlation between field of
endeavor and platform.

% 8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product.
% The rights attached to the program must not depend on the
% program's being part of a particular software distribution.
% If the program is extracted from that distribution and used
% or distributed within the terms of the program's license,
% all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have
% the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction
% with the original software distribution.

The FWL does not discriminate in relation to a PARTICULAR
software distribution. Instead, it discriminates in relation
to a CLASS of distributions - the free ones. Presumably
clause 8 was designed to prevent OS vendors calling "OSS"
software that could only be legally run on their platform.
The FWL clearly does not fall in that category. If you were
to distribute a FWL program in one particular OS distribution,
then if you extracted the program from the distribution, it
could still be run on ANY free platform - it's rights would not
have changed.

The reason why the FWL specifies all free platforms rather
than naming a list of platforms is so that it will work on
all future free platforms too.

% 9. License Must Not Contaminate Other Software.
% The license must not place restrictions on other software
% that is distributed along with the licensed software. For
% example, the license must not insist that all other programs
% distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

The FWL contains the clause:

   AGGREGATION: Mere aggregation of another work not based on
   the Module with the Module (or with a work based on the
   Module) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does
   not bring the other work under the scope of this Licence.

Also, the FWL does not place any restriction on COPYING to a
non-free platform, as this is required to distribute the program
through FTP archives running on non-free platforms. However, you
may not compile or run executables for non-free platforms.


Well, those are my arguments. I'm not asserting that they are
knockout arguments. I don't know what the right answer is in
deciding whether the FWL should be classified as "Open Source",
but I don't see why I shouldn't give it a shot. If you
can't knock down my arguments, then the FWL should be
rubber stamped "OSS".


Dr Ross N. Williams (ross at, +61 8 8232-6262 (fax-6264).
Director, Rocksoft Pty Ltd, Adelaide, Australia: 
Protect your files with Veracity data integrity:

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