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Re: Option 3

From: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2011 15:49:50 -0700
Message-ID: <AANLkTikyk4McM87o8BFK1nZt9swQinv95vFcihvfp7ya@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Cc: Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>, public-html@w3.org, PSIG <member-psig@w3.org>
On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 4:26 AM, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net> wrote:
> On 03/22/2011 04:26 AM, Jonas Sicking wrote:
>> On Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 4:28 PM, Lawrence Rosen<lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
>>  wrote:
>>>> Secondly, this license does not appear to be GPL-compatible, because it
>>>> applies additional constraints (e.g. it does not allow the content to
>>>> be merged into a non-software product).
>>> [LR: ] That is not accurate. What a license allows is not the opposite of
>>> what it prohibits; this license only affirmatively allows what it allows
>>> and
>>> says nothing whatsoever about the right to do other things. Option 3 does
>>> not prohibit anyone from merging the content of the spec into a
>>> non-software
>>> product; it simply doesn't authorize it. All of our licenses are based on
>>> affirmative but limited and conditional grants, not limitless grants. If
>>> you
>>> examine the patent grants in almost all FOSS licenses, for example, you
>>> will
>>> note that they do not *allow* the content to be merged into lots of
>>> things.
>>> That's how open source has always worked.
>>> As for the mandates of the GPL, the only thing that the GPL prohibits is
>>> "further restrictions" [1] and Option 3 has no such. There are no
>>> limitations or restrictions that would have to be passed on to downstream
>>> licensees.
>> So does Option 3 allow me to take some text which appears in a
>> document covered by the Option 3, and paste just that text into a GPL
>> licensed document? I.e. without also copying any copyright notices or
>> references to either Option 3 or to the original Option 3 licensed
>> document?
>> If the answer is "yes", then I agree that it appears to be compatible with
>> GPL.
>> If the answer is "no", then it does not appear that it is.
> By that reasoning, the MIT licenses[1] is not compatible with GPL.
> The FSF maintains otherwise and have publicly stated so[2].  It is my
> understanding that if this license is approved by the W3C that the FSF will
> take a similar position on this option.  This is based on my understanding
> of the outcome when actual lawyers employed by W3C member companies talked
> to actual lawyers of the FSF who were involved in the drafting of the GPL
> license.
> Of course, even if that is done, people can maintain whatever beliefs they
> like on the matter.  They merely damage their own personal credibility when
> they do so.
> I encourage you to read more on what compatibility means in this
> context[3][4].

You are indeed correct.

I would still maintain that "Option 3" is not compatible with GPL
though. While the license doesn't explicitly forbid copying the text
under the license into another specification, it effectively forbids
it by not allowing it. I'll note that GPL doesn't limit itself to
"explicit restrictions", but rather restrictions in general.

However, there is another problem as well, and this problem might well
exist with MIT as well. One of the goals of the newly requested
license is to allow actually copying pieces of the specification text
into the actual source code. Thus it seems to me that we want a
license which does permit actually copying text into a GPL licensed

Is this incorrect?

/ Jonas
Received on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 22:52:41 UTC

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