[License-review] For Approval: Rewrite of License Zero Reciprocal Public License

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Mon Nov 6 21:02:48 UTC 2017

On Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 1:29 PM, Kyle Mitchell <kyle at kemitchell.com> wrote:

>   5. If you run this software to analyze, modify, or generate
>      software, you must release source code for that software.

I am back from my ranch, sorry about the delay in responding to this.

No, I don't believe that this would pass OSD #6.

For the cases *analyze* and *modify*, the program has another program
(called the "input program") as its input. For *generate, *we may or may
not have another program as input.

Consider that the analysis task is a simple one: counting the number of
source code lines. So, once I use the L0-R program to count those lines, I
must license the input program as Open Source. Which seems absurd and does
seem to be a use restriction as prohibited by OSD#6. But keep reading, it
gets worse.

If I use the L0-R program to count the lines of a program for which I don't
own the copyright, I do not have the right to re-license the input program,
and am thus infringing upon the L0-R program.

So, here we violate the guideline that the passive user should not have to
read the license, and its corollary that a routine act of the passive user,
using the program in the way it's intended and not attempting to be a
software developer, should not render the user an infringer.

For the modify and generate cases, let us assume that the L0-R program is a
compiler. We should consider whether the program places pieces of itself in
its output, as a compiler usually does. If the program is modified to place
an entire copy of itself in its output for the purpose of circumventing the
license, you can and should catch that as the GPL does. But if the program
is performing its usual task of compiling source code, you are asking for
the program it is run upon to be licensed as Open Source simply because it
is processed with the L0-R compiler. Which again seems absurd, and we don't
have any reason to expect that the person running a compiler is even a
software developer. Gentoo, for example, builds all packages from source at
install time. So, there's a case where the user is not a developer and can
not be expected to have the right to re-license the software as your
license expects.

So, I am left with: is there any other *use *for which the L0-R program
should have the right to compel that the input to the program is
relicensed? And I am only coming up with the case in which a derivative
work of the L0-R software is created or at least the combination of the
L0-R software with other software short of meeting the definition of a
derivative work. And we don't have to restrict that sort of act as a *use,*
we have other language that can cover it.


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