[License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Mon Feb 27 15:54:01 UTC 2012

Well, I can assure you that researchers holding patents are generally
aware of what they are.  Especially if a royalty check has been cut at
some point for that patent. :)

If they are open sourcing code they can at least provide their own patent
numbers for someone to verify.  That and the contract numbers for the
research grants they've worked on.  This greatly reduces the search space.

What would be very costly is to do this for EVERY patent the organization
owns the MIGHT be included in software that is desired to be open sourced.
 There I can believe that the records are spotty.  Or more accurately
distributed among the various schools, colleges and labs associated with a
large research university.  There may or may not be automated central
record keeping of all IP, grants and agreements.  For example, MIT Lincoln
Labs may or may not send all IP disclosures and IP licensing information
upstream to MIT in real time.  They may do so quarterly or monthly (more

Take for example where I work.  Hopkins consists of generally the Homewood
campus (three schools), the Medical campus (three schools), The Peabody
Institute, The Carey Business School, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies and the JHU Applied Physic Laboratory.

Without something like ECL someone from the Carey Business school making
an open source release would have to hope that someone had complete and up
to date records from everyone else OR go ping all the other parts of the
university to insure that any broad explicit patent grant of all patents
held by JHU used in the code didn't tread on something someone else had
already exclusively granted. This assuming they could correctly identify
all patents in the code to be released in the first place.

According to wikipedia we have 23 research centers and institutes and
we're probably small to middle sized as far as big research universities
go.  That likely means at least 23 places to go ping.

ECL is nice middle ground between throwing the towel in and explicitly not
granting any patent rights or releasing everything expecting eventually to
be burned.  Actually the latter is not a viable explicit option so in
higher likelihood, once appraised of such risk, any sane management would
prohibit open sourcing anything until something like ECL was built or
going with an explicit non-grant like what MIT was seeking before.

ObDis: Speaking only for myself.

On 2/27/12 10:06 AM, "John Cowan" <cowan at mercury.ccil.org> wrote:

>Tzeng, Nigel H. scripsit:
>> These needs are largely (completely?) met with ECL v 2.0, which is an
>> approved OSI license.  When a research university wishes to release
>> code to the community it needs only make sure that granting any
>> patents held by the actual contributors is not in conflict with any
>> existing grants.
>From what I understand, that's precisely what they could not do, due to a
>lack of records.  Indeed, they might well have licensed the same patent
>exclusively to more than one licensee, for all they knew.  Hence the
>desire for a license that at least would not make a bad situation worse.
>It was during this discussion that we heard that the MIT license was not
>intended to operate as a patent license.  No surprise, given the above.
>"He who sells what isn't his'n / Must buy it back or go to prison."
>> The idea that the offices of tech transfer of large research
>> universities might attempt to lay patent mines is, well, interesting.
>"Never attribute to conspiracy what can be accounted for by mere
>I feel epigrammatic this morning, apparently.
>John Cowan      cowan at ccil.org        http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
>        Is it not written, "That which is written, is written"?
>License-review mailing list
>License-review at opensource.org

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