www-legal-discuss mailing list archives

Site index · List index
Message view « Date » · « Thread »
Top « Date » · « Thread »
From "Lawrence Rosen" <lro...@rosenlaw.com>
Subject RE: New versions of CC licenses
Date Thu, 05 Dec 2013 16:49:56 GMT
Jeff Thompson wrote:

> I'm focused on a very narrow question of great practical import.  Does a
commercial user have to change their pre-existing licenses in order to
incorporate the OSS into their product.  If the answer is "yes", then the
OSS license is not commercially friendly.  If its "no", then it is.  



And I'm focused on a much broader question of greater strategic import. Does
Apache have to limit the kinds of contributions it accepts because certain
commercial customers don't like certain FOSS licenses? 

 

You may not be aware that at least one Apache project (Open Office) has even
incorporated GPL contributions (dictionaries) into its distributed product.
That train has left the station. What's missing at Apache is a coherent
explanation of the rules so that we all know what to expect. That is why
several of us have requested that we modify the descriptions of the category
A and B licenses to make them intelligible and consistent.

 

Here's the process as I hope it would be:

 

1. An Apache project is free to incorporate any FOSS contributions as long
as the contribution license allows wrapping that contribution into software
distributed collectively under the Apache License 2.0.

 

2. The project must identify those dependencies in its NOTICE file.

 

3. The project must provide source code to the entire distribution,
including those contributions.

 

4. The project will distribute the entire software under the Apache License
2.0.

 

The rest is up to the user. In particular, as a commercial distributor your
company should read the NOTICE file. You can decide for yourselves whether
(e.g.,) you want to include in your own products the GPL or CC-BY components
in our software. You have enough engineers available to do what it takes to
make your distributed software consistent with your own licenses. Don't
burden us with your own restricted view of FOSS licensing.

 

Believe me, as a licensing lawyer I'm very sympathetic to your concern that
this may open up your own customer licenses for renegotiation. But
personally I would never have negotiated a license that included future
upgrades without leaving myself open to any upgrades that I think are
reasonable.... But the fact that you did so should not result in any
restrictions on allowing Apache projects to include FOSS components that
make our software better.

 

/Larry

 

Lawrence Rosen

Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com
<http://www.rosenlaw.com/> )

3001 King Ranch Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482

Office: 707-485-1242

Linkedin profile: http://linkd.in/XXpHyu 

 

From: Jeffrey Thompson [mailto:jthom@us.ibm.com] 
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2013 7:15 AM
To: legal-discuss@apache.org
Subject: Re: New versions of CC licenses

 

Stephen Connolly <stephen.alan.connolly@gmail.com> wrote on 12/05/2013
09:52:32 AM:
> On 5 December 2013 14:43, Jeffrey Thompson <jthom@us.ibm.com> wrote:

>> Stephen,
>>     I haven't addressed the DRM restriction.  I'm talking about the 
>> license terms under which the customer receives the combined work.
> 
> yes and as long as you can maintain your rights on the individual 
> components *as* individual components (i.e. extracted from the 
> combined work) what is the issue if the license terms of the 
> combined work *as a whole* are more restrictive.

I'm focused on a very narrow question of great practical import.  Does a
commercial user have to change their pre-existing licenses in order to
incorporate the OSS into their product.  If the answer is "yes", then the
OSS license is not commercially friendly.  If its "no", then it is.  

CC-BY is not commercially friendly.  It states that the commercial user MUST
pass on all rights and cannot prohibited modification or distribution (at
least as to those components).  So, if a commercial entity had previously
agreed with a customer on a license which generally prohibits modification
and redistribution (not uncommon), then incorporation of CC-BY components in
any software that is going to be provided under that unmodified pre-existing
agreement would violate the CC-BY terms.

It doesn't matter that the customer is getting MORE rights under the CC-BY
license.  The rights are different.  To the procurement officer at the
customer's shop, its more work. S/He has to re-open the agreement, negotiate
the modification, get legal approval, etc.  Like I said before, its a narrow
question, but has a big practical impact.  The result is that the customer
either (a) won't agree to take the new software or (b) the transaction will
be delayed for weeks/months while a new procurement cycle is processed.

Think of it as the commercial analog of the OSS license proliferation
problem.  There's nothing illegal or immoral about every OSS project writing
their own OSS license and insisting that the license carry forward through
the distribution chain.  But, things aren't very efficient that way.  It
makes consuming the output of other projects harder and creates potential
licensing conflicts even though there is no real benefit.  Thankfully, most
OSS project select established licenses and many choose licenses that permit
the code to be distributed under other terms (as long as the rights passed
on are a subset of what is received).

Jeff
Counsel, IBM Software Group


Mime
View raw message