OpenE License

Matthew C. Weigel weigel at
Wed Feb 27 18:10:24 UTC 2002

On Wednesday, February 27, 2002, at 12:46 p, David Blevins wrote:

>>> (I dislike seeing copyrights on licenses anyway.  It implies that
>>> someone modifying the license needs approval...which means that OpenE
>>> needs approval from Apache group....Did they get it?  Does OpenE
>>> want to be bothered when someone wants to take the OpenE license
>>> and modify it?)
>> This is a sticky wicket which we have not found a good answer to.  On
>> the one hand, licenses that name a copyright holder are not reusable.
>> On the other hand, it seems hypocritical for an organization that
>> promotes software reuse to NOT promote license reuse.  And as you
>> point out, the license does not give any permissions to create derived
>> works.
>> The OSD is silent on this issue, so we have no grounds for refusing to
>> approve a copyrighted license.
>> We're having a board meeting today, and I'll bring this issue up.
> The license does give permission to create derived works, provided 
> those derivations are under the same license.  This is clearly 
> impossible if merging that work with another work under the same 
> restriction, so I see your point.

You are confusing the copyright of the license and the copyright of 
the software.

What was being discussed was how to handle a) licenses that are 
specific to a single company, and b) licenses that forbid 
derivative works (i.e.,  "I like this license but I need to make 
this change for my needs..." - the resultant license may well be 
OSD-compliant, but it might not be *usable*)

> I have felt first hand the complications of working on open source 
> software copyrighted to someone else, an thusly, not having the 
> right to mix that code with even another Open Source approved 
> license.  One possible avenue would be amending the OSD to protect 
> the rights to change the license (and copyright) on derived works 
> to any other OSI approved license.

You can not, except under special circumstances, transfer copyright 
to someone else.

If you could change the license of anything under an OSS license to 
be under any other OSS license, everything would eventually be 
under the BSD license.  And there would be gobs and gobs and gobs 
of software that was Free Software but not Open Source, because 
people would not be *interested* in having whatever license they 
created for their software replaced.  Different licenses serve 
different needs *of the licensor*, and the licensee's needs that 
are considered 'important' or 'necessary' or 'good' are the ones 
already in the OSD.

> Even this raises the question, who has rights to relicense and 
> sell a commercial version as is done with PostgreSQL, MySQL, etc.?

The copyright holder(s) and people to whom the copyright holder(s) 
grant that right.

It is a common thread that people see part of Free Software and 
think, "this is all there is; this license describes Free 
Software." It happens when people think that every concievable 
right ought to go to the licensee and they think the BSD license is 
all there is, and it happens when they see the GPL and think that 
Free Software must be provisioned to always be Free Software to 

weigel at

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