[License-review] Submission of OSET Public License for Approval

Meeker, Heather J. hmeeker at omm.com
Tue Sep 1 22:18:59 UTC 2015

1 September 2015

Members of the OSI License Review Community
VIA EMAIL to license-review at opensource.org

CC:         Christine M. Santoro, Esq., OSET Foundation General Counsel
                John Sebes, CTO, OSET Foundation / TrustTheVote Project

RE:          Application for Consideration of the OSET Foundation OPL for OSD Compliance Approval

Greetings, Members of the OSI License Review Community:

The Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET) is pleased to submit the OSET Public License (OPL) for OSI license review and for discussion with the larger community.   We believe the OPL falls into the special purpose category.  We coordinated the drafting of this license, with review and input from other lawyers both within and outside of the Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET).

OSET's tax-exempt non-profit mission is to facilitate the development of technology to deliver free, and fair elections within an accountable and verifiable process.  The public servants tasked with running our elections are poised to embrace the benefits of open source software licensing, but they also must work within the procurement rules of their profession.  While we hesitated to create a new license, we have done so to meet the needs of our user community.  Existing open source licenses do not deliver what our community needs, and we have written the OPL to meet these needs, and bridge the gap between open source licensing and many county and state government technology procurement regulations.

Our goal is for the OPL to facilitate the implementation of verifiable, accurate, secure, and transparent elections system technology that are not only federal- and state- certified, but also demonstrably worthy of the public's trust.  We believe this can only be accomplished using open source software.

Our stakeholder community-elections administrators and officials-are very receptive to acquiring open source software-based election and voting systems provided the software (and related support and services) can be legally acquired through their procurement process.  A primary ingredient of their procurement process is terms and conditions of software licensing that meet their regulatory requirements.

While governments already often acquire open source technology on an ad hoc basis under existing licenses, they face more, and different, hurdles acquiring open source election systems.  Open source software that is merely part of a larger IT system is usually covered by two documents-the open source license, and an overarching (and often superseding) procurement agreement that fits with the applicable regulations.  Where an agency is acquiring an entire open source technology system-especially technology to be used in public elections and subject to competitive bidding-procurement regulations need to be handled properly within the four corners of the open source license.

Accordingly, OSET has based its license on the Mozilla Public License version 2.0 ("MPL") with the addition of six modifications:
1.            Governing Law
2.            Venue
3.            Government Rights
4.            March-in Rights
5.            Sovereign immunity
6.            Deployment

These modifications address necessary requirements for the provisioning of election software to county and state government agencies and their contractors.  Election technology procurement takes place primarily at the local (state, county, and jurisdictional) level; however, we would like the license to work at the federal level as well.

Also, we are mindful of the benefit of compatibility with other licenses.  Like MPL 2.0, the OPL is compatible with GPL and LGPL 3.0.  So, all software issued under OPL can be used in GPL and LGPL projects that have adopted the version 3 licenses. Therefore, any project that does not require the added provisions of OSET is free to elect not to use them, and to use GPL, or LGPL instead.  We think this is the best way to address our constituents' needs while limiting the compatibility problems of a new license.

We have posted the text of the license (in plain text, PDF, and HTML), our rationale document, and an FAQ, as support for our submission.  http://www.osetfoundation.org/public-license/.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to the discussion!


Heather Meeker
O'Melveny & Myers
Counsel to OSET
+1 650.473.2635
Gregory Miller
Co-Executive Director, Chief Development Officer, OSET
+1 503.703.5150
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