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From "Roy T. Fielding" <field...@gbiv.com>
Subject Re: [Request For Comment] Third-Party Licensing Policy
Date Tue, 14 Mar 2006 18:49:17 GMT
On Mar 13, 2006, at 5:49 PM, Cliff Schmidt wrote:

> See http://people.apache.org/~cliffs/3party.html for a draft policy  
> regarding the use of third-party works in Apache products and their  
> various licenses.  The policy includes license criteria, lists of  
> specifically authorized and excluded licenses, a license labeling  
> policy, options for works under excluded licenses, and a transition  
> policy.

Sorry I haven't been able to keep up with this discussion.  I am
slowly working through my backlog of interesting stuff that got
dropped last month due to court deadlines and W3C TAG stuff, both
of which are now out of the way.

All of my concerns are about policy, not legality, and I think it is a
shame that we have to repeat all of the discussions that we had on the
licensing mailing list (see private archives).  But I don't have any
specific things to point to because the meat of our licensing  
discussions
and philosophy took place during phone meetings and conferences.

The #1 principle of the ASF is embodied in our certificate of  
incorporation
as stated by me to the State of Delaware, namely

    <http://www.apache.org/foundation/records/certificate.html>

    The purpose of the Corporation is to engage in any lawful act or
    activity for which corporations which are organized not for profit
    may be organized under the General Corporation Law of the State of
    Delaware, including the creation and maintenance of "open source"
    software distributed by the Corporation to the public at no charge.

I know that is written in an open-ended way, for legal reasons, but
it really has been the intention of the Foundation from its very
beginning to be a distributor of open source.  In my opinion, no
source means no distribution from the ASF, regardless of anyone's
opinion on how inconvenient that might be for users.  Emphasizing
that some perfectly reasonable open source code must only be
redistributed in binary form is contrary to our founding principle.

At the same time, the above is the limit of our obligations.  There
is no need to limit our software to one Apache License.  There is a
desire, sure, but no obligation.  I would prefer to have a list of
allowable licenses and a standard for full disclosure of those licenses
within each distribution.  That is how the HTTP server has always
operated, and we don't have the legal capacity to go back and rewrite
history just to make license uniformity a goal.

My work on the Apache License was intended to make it entirely
compatible with other open source licenses when distributed together.
I see that work being steadily eroded by what is essentially a PR
simplification.  I honestly don't care how many lawyers are required
by our redistributors to understand the detailed licensing conditions
for each product -- they are going to do that anyway for due diligence.
If they don't like it, then they don't need to redistribute our
software under their own license.  It is not *OUR* problem.
Our problem is providing open source software to the public.

So, while I think the policy is carefully worded and well thought-out,
there is no point in having me review it in detail because the
criteria chosen is, in my opinion, wrong for the ASF.  We should be
focusing on how to legally distribute open source of any license,
not limiting the scope of licenses that are allowed to be distributed
(aside from the GPL, which is self-limiting).

....Roy

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