YAOSL - Yet Another Open Source License v1.03

Alex Nicolaou anicolao at cgl.uwaterloo.ca
Fri Oct 29 20:03:27 UTC 1999

Arandir wrote:
> On Thu, 28 Oct 1999, Alex Nicolaou wrote:
> > 1. You may distribute complete and verbatim copies of this software and
> > all supporting files, provided that you do so without any charge.
> >
> > 2. You may charge for distributing complete and verbatim copies of this
> > software with all supporting files, provided that you conspicuously
> > publish on each copy a notice that the distribution includes software
> > whose license terms the user must read and accept before using.
> Do these two clauses combined mean that I can distribute your software WITHOUT
> the license notice so long as I don't charge for it?

No, I consider the license a supporting file of the software. Originally
this read:

1. You may distribute complete and verbatim copies of this software and
its supporting files, including this license, without restriction,
provided that you do so without any charge.

and similarly for 2, but I decided that "including this license" was
redundant. Do you think that the original wording is better?

> > 3. You may modify the software, provided that within 90 days you either
> >
> >     a) publicly distribute your changes as a source code patch against a
> >        currently available version of the software,
> > or
> >     b) return your modifications to the copyright holder for
> > incorporation
> >        into the next publicly available version of the software.
> What if the modifications are for my own personal use, or the use of my
> organization.

You are still bound by these terms. Clause #4 originally read:

4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the software
except as expressly provided under this License. In particular you are
obligated to either publicly distribute your modifications or return
them to the copyright holder even if you are only using the software
personally or within a single organization.

Again I cut the clarification in #4 because I thought it was redundant;
the terms of #3 are sufficiently clear to rule out personal use or use
within a single organization. Do you think that the original wording is

Incidentally, this is one of the main factors that drives me not to use
the GPL; according to the way I read it, the GPL doesn't allow
distribution within an organization without giving the individual users
the right to distribute outside the organization: however others have
argued the converse. This type of ambiguity really makes the GPL
undesirable: what is publicly stated about it doesn't seem to match with
what's actually written in the license. What's to stop me from creating
a worldwide non-profit organization entitled "The Society for Freely
Usable Binary Software" within which I distribute binaries of modified
GNU software but not the source? Isn't this a violation of the GNU
license? And what's the difference between that and a large organization
like IBM or Corel using GNU software "internally"?

> > 6. You are not required to distribute your patches under the terms of
> > this license. However, by submitting your patches to the copyright
> > holder you grant the copyright holder the right to distribute a new
> > version of the software that includes your patches under these terms.
> Hmmm, possible loophole. If I don't submit my patch to you, but someone
> downstream from me does, do you still get to change my patches to your
> license?

Yes, assuming that the person downstream from you had the right to give
me the software knowing that I would release it under new license terms.
If they don't have the right and I know it then I would be legally
liable; if they don't have the right and I don't know it, at least you
could sue them.

> > 7. If you are unable to follow all of the terms of this license due to
> > a court order or any other reason, then the license is void and you are
> > prohibited from exercising any of the rights granted by it.
> This clause actually affects the normal use of the software. Unisys bitches
> because you incorporated a gif, now I am forbidden to even execute the
> program.

Yes, that is my intention. I guess I don't really see the problem? The
GIF example is weak since the patent covers encoding/decoding the GIF,
not distributing it, so the software can be distributed with GIFs as
long as the algorithm patent is not violated. Of course, if I
distributed software that encoded/decoded the GIF that would be a
different matter; as covered on http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/gif.html
that would allow Unisys to sue me no matter what license I choose.

> > 8. If any portion of this license is unenforcible in your jurisdiction
> > then the entire license is considered void and not granted, and you
> > have no rights regarding the software.
> This is similar to the above. What if a nation (France for example) ruled that
> something was unenforcable (the 90 days for another example). This would mean
> that no one in the nation of France is able to use the software at all.
> I think a better solution would be to change this into a severability clause

This is my intention also. I don't know what you mean by a severability
clause. Can you point me at another license that contains one or suggest

I beleive that the usual case for these types of laws has to do with
preserving competitive advantage for people writing software within the
country. For example, it was rumored that non-localized software would
be illegal in France at some point in the near future: so if you wished
to sell in france you'd have to translate your software to french.
Clearly this type of law tilts the table substantially in favour of
protecting the internal software development industry: they already need
to localize their software to reach the huge english speaking market,
but they'll have less trouble simultaneously releasing a version in
France that will hold a near-monopoly and make it easier for the french
software company to survive and maintain its position. It isn't clear to
me why my license should take steps to allow my software to be used in
countries where the laws are oriented at restricting my ability to
compete for market share.

A similar case already exists for cryptographic software in the USA.
Given the inane policies of the US Government regarding cryptography,
it's not a large stretch to imagine that someday they'll allow export of
binary versions of cryptographic software but not source code versions.
If that day arrives, could software under the GPL license can be
distributed without source?

So the intent here is to protect the license against situations that
could invalidate just the portions that are most important, leaving the
users with rights that I never intended to grant. Better that they not
use it at all, and have to contact me for a different license instead.


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