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Clash of the Open Standards 215

Rollie Hawk writes "Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Computer Associates (CA) may agree that some housework is needed with open source licensing, but they may not be able to reconcile their views on the best solution. CA has a couple of possible solutions in mind for its proposed Template License. This license will likely be based on either Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) its own Trusted Open Source License. OSI, which does not favor corporate-centered licensing, opposes such moves on a number of grounds. Specifically, they point out that CDDL is not GPL-compatible. While acknowledging the problems with license proliferation, OSI prefers a solution involving stricter criteria (including that approved licenses must me non-duplicative, clear and understandable, and reusable) and is proposing a "three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated." While there is no legal requirement for any open-source license to be approved by OSI, it is currently common practice for developers to get their license blessing from it."
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Clash of the Open Standards

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  • by syntap ( 242090 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:23AM (#12211041)
    proposing a "three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated.

    With all the nuanced licenses appearing, this is good to see. Then again for my needs all I want to know is GPL-compatible or not.
  • more than two? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3@noSpam.gmail.com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:31AM (#12211098) Homepage Journal
    Not to ask a stupid question (I know there are no stupid questions, just stupid questioners), but:
    Exactly how many open source licenses are there? When I first started looking at open source, I only knew of GPL. Then I learned of BSD. Up till now, I was under the impression that those two were the only open source licenses.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:37AM (#12211143)
    Why is CA involved in this in the first place?

    Their #1 revenue model is to buy a software product from someone else, cut development and rake in maintenance checks. Are they branching out?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:38AM (#12211152)
    CA won't let its developers use even LGPL libraries (except on Linux platforms). I always found their OSI involvement a little premature...
  • by NerdHead ( 35767 ) * on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:39AM (#12211164)
    Licenses are important but different developers see licenses differently. I think it is rational to offer a license of choice by the author of the software. I wouldn't want a standards committee telling me what my license should be and I wouldn't want a RIAA/MPAA-type organization either. While I'm at it, why make a license compatible with another? If I want my license to be compatible with GPL, why not just use the GPL? The BSD vs. GPL is a matter of what freedoms one wants in their license. As long as there is a license to protect the author, it should be fine.
  • by dago ( 25724 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:40AM (#12211173)
    except that allofmp3.com does NOT violate any law and has properly took a license from the proper russian administraton.

  • Re:Actual impact (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CDarklock ( 869868 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:09AM (#12211383) Homepage Journal
    I think there's one major faction which isn't covered by GPL and BSD, where people don't want their software redistributed in modified form. OSI recognises this and provides for it by allowing licenses which require redistribution to be in P3 format (Pristine Plus Patches), but there's no real consensus on one license that covers this need.

    There are a lot of companies who agree completely with the idea of releasing source code, but really dislike the "unrestricted redistribution" thing. A solid industry-standard P3 license would alleviate some of their fears, and could get more projects out there in the open source world.
  • Re:GPL-compatible (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ithika ( 703697 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @11:04AM (#12211885) Homepage
    All three of the licences you list are compatible with the GPL.
  • Re:Actual impact (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ithika ( 703697 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @11:10AM (#12211954) Homepage
    Given requirement (1), why bother use an open licence at all? If you can't fork, why bother opening in the first place? If I can't improve it without your say-so, it's not really open.
  • Re:GPL-compatible (Score:2, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) * on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @11:18AM (#12212045) Homepage Journal

    Have you stopped to consider that it is the GPL that is incompatible with the other licenses, not the other way around?

    Apologies for sounding pedantic here, but this is incorrect. The GPL cannot be incompatable with the CDDL and MPL without the MPL and CDDL being incompatable with it. It's obviously silly to describe one as incompatable with the other but not the other way around. The MPL and CDDL most certainly are incompatable with the GPL.

    If you badly worded the above, and meant the emphasis should be on the GPL in terms of where the problems are coming, my entire posting addresses that: The GPL is neutral, it requires the imposition of no further restrictions, and therefore is one of the few players in town that qualifies as a legitimate baseline FOSS license for licenses to aspire compability with. The same is not true of the CDDL, MPL, or non-copyleft licenses such as the BSD and X11 licenses. The former are not project neutral. The latter do not prevent more conditions being attached, which essentially makes them useless from an interoperability point of view.

    For example, you can mix and match code from CDDL, BSD and MPL all you want, there are no restrictions in that regard.

    No, you can't.

    The MPL is not compatable with the CDDL and vice versa. You cannot use code from an MPL project in a CDDL project. In fact, the licenses get legally problematic even when you try to combine code licensed under the same license from two different projects sourced by two different "Initial Developers". So not only is the MPL and CDDL incompatable with the GPL and each other, but frequently not even themselves!

    When you throw GPL in, you have to license the entire kit and kaboodle under GPL.

    There really isn't a lot of difference in the case of the MPL and CDDL. Both require that any relicensing be done under a license that imposes the same restrictions and grants. Essentially they're saying "You can relicense this under any license you want, as long as it's this one, or a rewrite." Most additional rights granted are, in any case, a re-statement of copyright law.

    The real problem with both is that both try to elevate the initial developer to a special status. While it might be understandable, it's by design going to create problems getting multiple projects to cooperate. As soon as you say "This license does something special if {something that's project specific}", then you're into incompatable licenses.

    Example - a company works with an OSS project and contributes code back on a regular basis. They have an opportunity to provide the project with support for a new deice, but the information they can do this with is covered under an agreement that prevents them releasing the code for this device. Under BSD or CDDL, no problem, they are not required to provide the code. Under the GPL, they cannot do this - development is stifled. Of course, the root of the problem is the locking down of the required information - but often we are talking buisness and competition issues i.e the real world.

    In the situation you describe, the "fault" doesn't lie with the GPL. There's nothing stopping the developers - as a group, all of them who have contributed code - from saying "Yes, we'll do this closed source thing for this particular module", because the developers own the copyrights, and can agree, as a group, to dual license. This, of course, doesn't mean the developers will, it may be - shock horror - that the developers are opposed to their work being used in proprietary code, which leaves the company that wants to restrict the information used for the device driver the major stumbling block.

    The CDDL, incidentally, doesn't allow this any more than the GPL does with the possible exception (and the CDDL is actually vague here, which makes matters worse) of the "initial developer" who gets some special rights. Both the MPL and CDDL are so-called "weak

  • The AJS318 licence (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `earthshod.co.uk'> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:06PM (#12212738)
    I present my ownution:

    This program is copyright (c) 2005, AJS318 and will enter the Public Domain on 1 January 2005.

    Above and beyond your statutory rights, permission is hereby granted {and you are encouraged} to copy and distribute this program in source or binary forms, with or without modification, subject to the following conditions:
    1. Distributions in source code form must include this copyright and permission notice and disclaimer of warranty {or, at your discretion, notice of a warranty underwritten by you}.
    2. Distributions in binary form must include this copyright and permission notice and disclaimer of warranty {or, at your discretion, notice of a warranty underwritten by you}; and an offer, valid in perpetuity, to supply on request the complete, machine-readable source code.
    3. The names of the copyright holders may not be used to promote or endorse any product without written permission.
    4. Translation of messages and documentation in the English-language version to other languages is permitted. However, this permission-to-translate clause must be replaced in the translated version by a clause forbidding any further translation.
  • I meant "most commonly used FOSS license, in number of FOSS packages choosing it". After thinking about it, I think probably The Artistic License actually has more users, since Perl is almost ubiquitous. Sendmail's BSD-like license is another contender.

    I think I'll ask Google ... hmm, interesting. Here is a cached page listing some numbers:


    GPL/LGPL ~77%,
    BSD et al 12%.

  • by spitzak ( 4019 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @02:19PM (#12214579) Homepage
    The GPL does not force you to do anything. By their explanation Ford motor company is "communist" because to use their cars you are "forced" to give them money.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong