What's this commercial license, and what's the problem with CDDL?

Chris Yoo cyoo at squiz.net
Thu Feb 17 23:13:52 UTC 2005

Here is my two cents.

>From a business perspective, I believe that a restrictive approach to the
certification of open source licenses stifle business innovation and the
wider adoption of open source as a software development strategy:

1. The business model and future of a software project are defined within
its license (in the case of open source licenses the proportionment of
intellectual property and liability are key)
2. Innovative new business models continuously emerge and contribute to the
wider adoption of open source strategies
3. We have no idea in what way open source will be utilised in the future 
4. Taking a restrictive approach to the certification of licenses:
4a. stifles business innovation - if organisations are preempted from
writing new licenses, would they be motivated to think of new open source
4b. stifles the adoption of open source - if organisations are unable to
find a certified license that accords with their business requirements, yet
are unable to propose a new license they will be unlikely to adopt an open
source strategy
4c. Places barriers on the global use of open source - each legal
jurisdiction has it's own unique legal requirements, each licensor has
choice of law/jurisdiction issues to consider

Therefore I believe that declaring only a few 'core' licenses as open source
is the Wrong approach. I agree with the original approach of the OSI. This
provides enough flexibility not to restrict innovation, while ensuring that
fundamental principles are maintained. 

I see the only major problem with this approach being compatibility between
licenses - is this the "clear and present danger" of the proliferation of
licenses that the article refers to? However, I believe that this is the
responsibility of the original licensor of the software. If such a licensor
wishes to ensure that the software and it's derivatives will be compatible
with software under other licenses, they must have the foresight release the
software under a license that does provide such compatibility and also
ensure that re-licensing is restricted so as this is maintained in its
derivatives. This responsibility must go somewhere, and I believe it belongs
with the licensor not the OSI. 

Of course this view IS from a business persective - one of many. However, in
my view such a perspective is not insignificant to the development of open



-----Original Message-----
From: Jason White [mailto:jasonjgw at pacific.net.au] 
Sent: Thursday, 17 February 2005 3:13 PM
To: David Ryan
Cc: license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Re: What's this commercial license, and what's the problem with

David Ryan writes:
 > I noticed that Slashdot had a link today to OSI and the current problem
> of proliferation of licenses.  For those interested here's the link.
 > http://developers.slashdot.org/developers/05/02/16/2210209.shtml
 > I agree completely that the OSI has created a problem for itself with  >
license proliferation, however, I don't see this being solved by saying  >
that they will only be three licenses (as suggested by the article).  I  >
haven't seen these ideas discussed in this list.  Anyone know what the  >
meaning behind the requirement for a "commercial license" as the third  >
license involves?  What is the basis for this license, etc?

The first point to note is that the article quotes a member of the board of
the OSDL, which, according to the same article, has been advocating a
reduction in the number of approved licenses. Thus, what is quoted is most
likely to be a personal opinion, or at most a position endorsed by OSDL (not
OSI), and should be treated as such.

There has been discussion on this list of opening a new category of
"recommended licenses", in effect introducing a two-tiered approval system.
It would also be possible for the OSI to introduce a stronger threshold for
approval, for example by requiring parties seeking approval for new licenses
to justify creating another license instead of adopting an existing one, or
requiring the wording of newly approved licenses to be sufficiently general
to make them reusable in other projects, or rejecting new licenses that fail
to meet compatibility criteria (that would again have to be specified) with
respect to existing open-source licenses. Note the inclusive disjunction in
this last sentence - I am suggesting that any combination of these and other
options is in principle open.

 > I'm also interested in the so called controversy over the CDDL.  Having
> read over the differences again, it seems to only clarify the MPL.  Is  >
there any *real* issues with the CDDL that people have found?

No. I raised some of the alleged issues on this list recently; check the
archives for the discussion that ensued. I still think the CDDL is a good
license and that it has the advantages which John Cowan and others have
identified with regard to the MPL.

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the OSI or any other
organization; all opinions expressed here are mine alone, and I'm a
relatively uninformed member of the public.

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