Request for advice on license drafting

David Ryan david at
Tue Feb 8 00:44:02 UTC 2005

chris yoo wrote:

> 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.

This is much like the Qt Public License.   Which has the following..

b. When modifications to the Software are released under this license, a 
non-exclusive royalty-free right is granted to the initial developer of 
the Software to distribute your modification in future versions of the 
Software provided such versions remain available under these terms in 
addition to any other license(s) of the initial developer.

> 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.
Could you explain this one in some more detail?  What are you trying to 
achieve with it?

> 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.

I agree completely.  My post to the mailing list yesterday was done 
after attempting to find a license which I think is similar to what you 
are attempting to achieve.  I would be interested in seeing if our 
interests can be combined to form such a license.

I noticed that the RPL got a rather bad wrap by users of slashdot 
today.  Macstl was linked on slashdot today. ( This 
is by Glen Low, who was discussing licenses in June last year on this list.

My aim with creating a license is to achieve a business model much like 
QT.  I would much prefer a single license than the confusing dual 
licensing model used by QT.  I'd like to find a balance between allowing 
the software I create to be used in free and open source software and 
developing an income to support the continued development.  The sticking 
point with the GPL is that it allows internal commercial use and 
modification without giving back to the project.  It also makes it 
difficult for the original developer to re-include modifications made to 
the GPL version back into the original source.  Any license which isn't 
the GPL will probably still get a bad wrap, but ideally not quite as 
badly as RPL. :)


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