Request for advice on license drafting

chris yoo yoo.chris at
Mon Feb 7 05:57:18 UTC 2005

Dear license-discuss,

I am currently in the process of reviewing open source licenses to see
if I can find one appropriate for my business. I have found that while
various existing licenses each offer useful sections, there is not a
license that properly fits our purposes. However, before submitting a
new license for discussion, I would like to get any input on the
changes that my proposed license would make to existing licenses, to
get an idea of whether such changes would in principle be in
accordance with the OSD and that there are not any existing licenses
that would be suitable that I have missed out on.

The proposed license would be based largely on the Reciprocal Public
License (, requiring the
licensee to notify the licensor upon commercial use of the software,
excluding Research and Personal use.

However, I would like to add the following:

1. The inclusion of a joint assignment of the copyright over
contributions by Licensees to the Licensor. Such an assignment would
be similar to the "OpenOffice Joint Copyright Assignment" and allow
both the Licensor and Licensee to use such contributions independently
of each other. This would ensure that the contributions made by the
Licensee remain open source for the benefit of all users, but also
acknowledges the time and effort contributed by the Licensor in
creating the original Software by allowing the Licensor to use those
contributions in an independent manner and under alternate licenses
without requiring separate individual copyright assignment agreements
from each contributor.

2. The option for the Licensee to be released from some of its
obligations under the License, (i.e. the Licensee's obligations to
release source code, notify the Licensor of contributions, assign
joint copyright to the Licensor, etc) for a mutually agreed
consideration between the Licensor and Licensee. This will allow
additional flexibility to the Licensee's use of the software, while
ensuring that the principle of reciprocity is retained.

I believe that both of these changes would be in accordance with the
OSD. I understand that the concepts involved are currently being
achieved through the use of a dual licensing + copyright assignment
system. However the management of a large number of individual
copyright assignments and practical considerations of obtaining such
assignments (e.g. if the contributor is not contactable) is of
potential concern, and I believe that the proposed license would
provide a clean solution within a single license. I think that the
increasing adoption of dual licensing signifies a need for a license
that encapsulates such a scheme, and that the proposed license would
provide a flexible solution.

As a side note, I am also curious as to the nature of the evaluation
of potential licenses against the OSD principles. Is it a matter
ensuring that the license is in accordance with each of these ten
principles, or are 'value' judgments of whether the market is in need
of such a new license also a consideration? With many currently
certified OSI licenses differing very little from each other (with
some of them merely changing names of specific parties) my initial
impression was that it was the former. However recent comments on the
proliferation of OSI certified licenses and the OSI's reluctance to
certify new licenses leads me to believe that perhaps the latter is
also a strong consideration. Clarification of this matter would
greatly help in a proposal for a new license to be written in the

Thank you in advance for any constructive criticism on the above. Your
advice is much appreciated!

Chris Yoo.

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