[License-review] For Approval: Convertible Free Software License, Version 1.3 (C-FSL v1.3)

Carlo Piana osi-review at piana.eu
Tue Jan 8 16:38:23 UTC 2019

Elmar, all,

on a quick reading, I see there is a substantial effort to overcome most
of the criticism to the original version of the license.

However, leaving aside OSD for a moment, there are still a few bits
where the license is extremely hard to parse (I suppose one can say the
same for the GNU GPL v.3, honestly, at a first reading).

Anyhow, the bit I was mostly skeptical about has changed, providing at
least some certainty. But I don't think the substance has changed. Let's
see how.

> 6. ORIGINAL AUTHORS > > 6.1 The Original Authors of the Work shall be listed at the
beginning > of the changelog file or the header of file changes of Your
Derivate > Work.

That's fine, I suppose. Just "Derivate" -> Derivative

> > 6.2 You may re-licence your Derivative Work separately under any >
Licence you desire, without a Marker and only with the prior written >
consent of the Original Authors. In such event, new Contributors may >
be added to the Original Authors’ group.
That is again flatly discriminatory, not per se, but in combination with
other provisions.

Basically it says that somebody can relicense on permission from the
copyright holders.  That's nothing more than what is in the law. You get
the permission? No problem. No permission? Stick to the license.
Copyleft, no issues.

The offending point is that it's the Original Authors, not the copyright
holders, those who have the power to authorize relicensing and adding
new Original Authors (I suppose all of them jointly, or perhaps based on
a majority vote, and in case, how do you calculate the majority? Per
capita? Per share?)

> 7.5 If the Fork comprises 65% or more code that is different to that > of the Original Branch, then new Original Authors may be appointed. >
That's quite a high threshold. This is not a fork, this is a new project
incorporating some of the previous code. And the verb "may" means by the
Original Authors or (more likely, but it's not clear) by the forker alone?

> 7.6	Notwithstanding the provisions in 7.4 above, new original > authors may be appointed with the written consent of the Original >

The reference is wrong, methinks. I suppose it's 7.5.

Troubling point. Again, it's the Original Authors whose who have power
to appoint new Original Authors, despite Original Authors do not include
all those who have copyright title, neither there is any guarantee that
they hold the majority of the copyright, collectively, or that any of
them has the highest share of it.

So my criticism stands, despite the effort. I see that Bruce has already
more or less said the same.

With best regards,


On 08/01/19 16:56, Elmar Stellnberger wrote:
> Full Name: Convertible Free Software License Version 1.3 Short > Identifier: C-FSL v1.3 URL1: >
https://www.elstel.org/license/C-FSL-v1.3.pdf URL2: >
https://www.elstel.org/license/C-FSL-v1.3.txt > > Rationale and
Distinguish: While the BSD license allows the whole > world to
re-license and while re-licensing is virtually impossible > with GPL
since every contributor would need to consent the C-FSL > license goes a
practical intermediate way restricting the right to > re-license to a
group called the original authors. That way open > source developers are
not excluded from making business with others > who want to base a
proprietary product on the given piece of open > source software. > >
Proliferation Category & Legal Review: Other/Miscellaneous The > license
has now been fully reworked by a lawyer. Besides this Version > 1.3
features easier and more user friendly forking. > > list of software
which uses C-FSL v1.1.: qcoan: > https://www.elstel.org/coan xchroot,
confinedrv, bundsteg, > debcheckroot, dbschemacmd: also found at
www.elstel.org > > P.S.: Please excuse that I have forgotten to attach
the license in my > last mail; apart from this this mail is just the
same. > > _______________________________________________ License-review
> mailing list License-review at lists.opensource.org >
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