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

Brendan Hickey brendan.m.hickey at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 02:13:53 UTC 2019

On Tue, Jan 8, 2019, 08:51 Elmar Stellnberger <estellnb at elstel.org 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

My understanding from last time is as follows: you believe that
contributors will decline to sign a CLA with you so you want to simulate a
CLA with a license. Your solution vests different authors with varying
rights. While you're free to do this, it will never conform to the OSD.
You've submitted a reworded license that doesn't address fundamental
objections raised to the last version. Controling forks and privileging
certain authors is irreconcilably at odds with the OSD (and free software.)
There's nothing wrong with proprietary software, just don't call it open

A hypothetical contributor might refuse your CLA for a number of reasons:
they don't want to understand yet another CLA, they don't want to give you
those rights (in addition to free work!) and so on. Harmony solves the
first of these problems. If you want to write source-available proprietary
software it's a great tool you can use.

As for the impossibly of relicensing FOSS code under a license that doesn't
freely allow you to do so, I must disagree. About ten years ago Dungeon
Crawl was relicensed under the GPLv3. Originally it used the Nethack
license, or something similar. We contacted about two hundred contributors.
In one case we secured permission from a contributor's estate. It was a
chore, but we did it.

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.

With regards to the license itself, I don't think it does what you want it
to do. Consider:

"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."

This lets me combine arbitrary CFSL code with a larger body of code,
declare myself a new Original Owners and convert the entire work. I can
even pull it in piecemeal to stay over the 65% limit.

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