[License-discuss] Intimacy in open source (SSPL and AGPL)

Gil Yehuda gyehuda at verizonmedia.com
Wed Jan 23 21:34:15 UTC 2019

My read is that there are two motivations to the copyleft license.
1. The purist motivation is based on the ideal that there should be no
proprietary code (or at least that users of someone else's code should have
access to that code as a sort of "right to repair" as expressed by the four
2. The other is a commercial motivation to construct license terms that are
permissive enough to get attention and adoption by curious (employed)
developers, but "threatening" enough to convert their companies into
licensors of the commercial terms.

Nearly all companies (folks at Red Hat and the like are a noted exception),
accept the need for proprietary code to exist and to be created -- either
because they sell licenses to it, or more importantly, because the
disclosure of their code may be harmful to their commercial venture (e.g.
revealing security flaws, customer data, or their crafted algorithms). They
recognize that some who license using copyleft (the purists) resent their
dependence and creation of proprietary software, and agree to disagree
amicably. It's that second group of copyleft licensors that pose a
different concern. They are in the business of selling protection from the
license threats they create.

It is this second group who have legitimate interest in making money, who
are exploring new license structures and terms to protect their revenue
interests. They use the licenses of purists when they are helpful, and
create proprietary ones when they need to.

Thus when pointing to the need to understand the motivation of those who
create these license -- I agree with you, not only 100%, but 200% because
you have to include the second group who clearly believe in creating
proprietary software (their "enterprise editions"), but who use the tools
created by those who do not, in order to convert interest into revenue from
employees who don't quite understand the parameters of these licenses.

Gil Yehuda

On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 3:30 PM Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 12:14 PM Lawrence Rosen <lrosen at rosenlaw.com>
> wrote:
>> Gil Yehuda wrote:
>> > I wondered why we don't have an A/LGPL (or A/MPL, A/EPL) that
>> addresses the "non-conveyed software gap" but also limits the scope of
>> copyleft to the work itself.
>> We do. OSL 3.0.
> This is missing the point. While Larry is happy to create another license
> which implements a limited copyleft, the Free Software Foundation's purpose
> is, of course, Free Software. So, while all manner of things *could *be
> done to facilitate addition of proprietary software to software under one
> of their licenses, they have done what they think is necessary to support
> that in issuing LGPL and GPL-with-exception, and simply aren't interested
> in going any farther.
> This is important, because you will have all manner of unfulfilled
> expectations if you understand licenses, but don't understand the
> motivations of the people who create them.
>     Thanks
>     Bruce
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