[License-discuss] dual licensing and the Open Source Definition

zgilboa at culturestrings.org zgilboa at culturestrings.org
Fri Dec 13 20:02:40 UTC 2013

> -------- Original Message -------- Subject: Re: [License-discuss]
> dual licensing and the Open Source Definition From: John Cowan
> <cowan at mercury.ccil.org <mailto:cowan at mercury.ccil.org>> Date: Fri,
> December 13, 2013 8:28 am To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> <mailto:license-discuss at opensource.org>
> zgilboa at culturestrings.org <mailto:zgilboa at culturestrings.org>
> scripsit:
>> One interesting side-effect of the above is that software can be 
>> released under a strong copyleft license, for instance the GPL, and
>> yet be accompanied by the option to "buy one's way out of the 
>> license," thereby releasing the buyer from any and all obligation
>> to make the modified source available to the public.
> Technically, that is not correct. Licensing applies on a per-copy 
> basis, so in that situation there are some copies of the source that 
> are available under an open source license and other copies that are 
> available under a proprietary license. This is only possible for the 
> licensor, who is not obliged to follow the restrictions of his own 
> license.
>> In light of the above, and given the guarantee of the Open Source 
>> Definition with respect to source availability [...]
> OSD #2 is narrower than people tend to think: it requires the
> licensor to make source available, and to allow people who have that
> source to redistribute it.
> OSD #3 requires only that the license permit modifications and 
> derivative works: it does not require those derivative works to be
> Open Source: see below.

Thank you for clarifying this.  The framework in which I am interested
would allow a distinction between derivative work in general, and
changes to a specific library in particular.  In other words, I'm
looking for a license that would guarantee source availability of all
patches that were applied to an open source library, but not necessarily
of the code that uses the interfaces which that library exports.

>> [T]o what extent does the GPL meet the OSI promise regarding the 
>> source of Open Source Software remaining open?
> 1) Entirely; and 2) There is no such promise.
> The GPL applies only to copies of works to which it is applied by
> the licensor. If other copies exist under other licenses, that has
> nothing to do with the validity of the GPL.
> But more importantly, the fact that a work is under an OSI license
> does not guarantee that all derivative works must be under OSI
> licenses. Many widely used Open Source licenses such as the BSD/MIT
> family and the MPL family allow for proprietary derivatives of
> open-source works.
>> After all, if vendors can take GPL'ed software and buy their way
>> out of the license so that binaries, with or without changes, can
>> be distributed without restriction and without a corresponding
>> source, then something is probably not working the way it was
>> originally intended.
> RMS probably doesn't like it, no. But people can use the GPL however 
> they want to.
>> 2) Consider the case of an individual entrepreneur who created a 
>> software library, and who would like to require vendors of
>> commercial products that _depend_ on that library to pay a
>> _one-time fee_, but otherwise be permitted to use the library or
>> distribute it in any way they see fit without additional charges,
>> and provided that the original source code, along with all changes
>> that were applied to it, remain available to the public.  Would
>> that author be able to release his/her library under an
>> OSI-approved license?
> In a word, no. Requiring some users to pay for source and not others 
> flatly contravenes OSD #5. But that's an ideal scenario for a GPL + 
> proprietary dual license. Vendors of proprietary software who want
> to use the library in ways the GPL forbids have to make terms with
> the author. What those terms are, whether a single payment or
> otherwise, are entirely between the author and the customers, and no
> concern of this list.
>> Then again, it seems to me that the possibility to regulate
>> one-time charges for commercial use from _within_ a license should
>> be much preferred over a de facto option to bypass the license
>> altogether.
> It comes to the same thing: bypassing the GPL is bypassing the GPL.
> And since the GPL's author has forbidden people to make modified
> versions of it, alternative terms must be placed outside it. This
> makes sense anyway in terms of the model in which some copies are
> available under GPL and others are available under the proprietary
> license.
> -- My confusion is rapidly waxing John Cowan For XML Schema's too
> taxing: cowan at ccil.org <mailto:cowan at ccil.org> I'd use DTDs
> http://www.ccil.org/~cowan If they had local trees -- I think I best
> switch to RELAX NG. _______________________________________________ 
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