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From Jeffrey Thompson <jt...@us.ibm.com>
Subject Re: New versions of CC licenses
Date Thu, 05 Dec 2013 15:15:25 GMT

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
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