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Re: [Licensing] Request to evaluate candidate HTML Document license (known as "Option 3")

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Sun, 03 Apr 2011 14:21:10 -0700
Cc: Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, "licensing@mozilla.org" <licensing@mozilla.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <33248F5A-6146-4468-8106-4F108CECCFA3@apple.com>
To: "Dailey, David P." <david.dailey@sru.edu>

On Apr 3, 2011, at 9:58 AM, Dailey, David P. wrote:

> Gervase Markham writes (for Mozilla):
> 
> "Our opinion is that Option 3 does not satisfy requirement A), because it 
> contains field-of-use restrictions."
> 
> Requirement A is 
> "A) The license must meet the Open Source Definition and the Free Software Definition."
> 
> Out of curiosity, I looked at Option 3 [1] , the Open Source Definition [2] and the Free Software Definition [3], and didn't quite see how Option 3 had field-of-use restrictions. I may be missing it in the Free Software Definition but I'm not sure what parts it might be covered under, while field of use restrictions in the Open Source Definition seem to be defined by clause (6) of that document:
> 
> "6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
> The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."
> 
> I'm just not seeing what field of endeavor Option 3 would discriminate against. 
> 
> I'm not saying this is wrong, but rather am just asking for clarification. If someone is going to reconcile some rather divergent perspectives on the licensure issue, understanding what those perspectives are would seem to be in order, though I recognize that this may seem a tad idealistic to some.

I believe Mozilla is interpreting the restriction of Option 3 to software as a field-of-use restriction. Non-software uses, such as documentation that does not accompany software, would be restricted.

On the other hand, Eben Moglen interpreted Option 3 as compatible with the GPL, and therefore free of "other restrictions". This seems potentially in conflict with Mozilla's interpretation, since a "field-of-use restriction" would presumably be an "other restriction".

I do not wish to specifically endorse either position, but I note that they may have very different consequences with respect to the goals of the license:

(1) If Mozilla's interpretation is correct, then the option 3 license has an effective field-of-use restriction, and therefore would likely not be compatible with the MPL, LGPL or GPL, notwithstanding the FSF's evaluation.

(2) If the FSF's interpretation is correct, then it would potentially be valid under the option 3 license to combine the spec with a trivial GPL work, and then, because the whole would be licensed under the GPL, fork it to remove the software and publish it as a forked spec.

This is why Gerv mentioned that a license that is interpreted differently by different people may be problematic. If there is truly room for honest differences in interpretation, then it may not be clear whether the actions in (1) or (2) are allowed, and this could lead to future disputes.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Sunday, 3 April 2011 21:21:44 UTC

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