Best base license to pick?

Alex Bligh alex at
Wed Feb 9 16:17:05 UTC 2005

--On 09 February 2005 10:49 -0500 David Dillard <david.dillard at> 

> I believe this violates the spirit, if not the actual wording, of section
> 3 of the Open Source Definition (derivative works).  The rationale for
> that section states "For rapid evolution to happen, people need to be
> able to experiment with and redistribute modifications."  This
> restriction would interfere with that goal.

What, then, is the purpose of Para 4 of the OSD? That's all they are trying
to achieve.

I don't *think* makes it hard to redistribute. I am thinking that all in
practice you (as a developer included in "people" above) is make your mods
to a copy of the source (good practice anyway), then before distributing,
run a script (provided by the client) which drops them in a patch directory
and makes a tarball. The build script checks that patch directory, notes
its presence (ensuring the version numbering etc. notes that it has been
patched), applies the patches and does the build.

Of course there's no need and no intention to prescribe that particular
method to achieve the goal (just the client wants to make it easy) - the
only restriction would be that expressly permitted by para 4, i.e. to
restrict the source-code from being distributed in modified form, but ALLOW
the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for modifying the
program at build time, and allow distribution of software built from that

I don't think it does violate para 3 (either wording or spirit). Para 3
is concerned with the making of modifications and derived works (before
the comma), and after the comma is concerned only that the distribution
of such modifications and derived works must be allowed under the same
license terms. Para 3 does not touch on permissibility of restrictions
of form of source code distribution - if anything, that's in Para 2,
and the client intends to ensure modification is easy (see above) - the
source-code is hardly obfuscated by patches than can be simply applied
any more than a .tgz is obfuscation - one command and it's recombined.

> I understand the concern, but I suggest your client drop this as a
> requirement.  People understand that forking is a BAD thing and will work
> to avoid it.

It isn't quite as simple as that. If there were no ongoing commercial usage
of parts of the code base by the client or no need to maintain
compatibility between the two, the client would just GPL and be done with
it. However, there needs to be, or the open-sourcing probably makes no
commercial sense. I'm afraid it's a compromise.


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