GPL + revision log license

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Mon Aug 18 2003 - 12:33:43 CDT

|AK> Please explain to me why we need approval for our license mods
|AK> from OSI or FSF, particularly when we are adding restrictions, not
|AK> removing them.

Matteo Giacomazzi <> wrote:
|Well, IMHO adding some restrictions could turn an Open license into a
|closed one.

Matteo makes the point I was trying to.

There have been a number of projects that have tried to wear the mantle
of open source, while really just disguising a proprietary license. A
lot of them try to sneak in the idea "you can look, but you cannot

We do not NEED approval from these organizations to use a license--or
even for it to -be- an Open Source license. But being able to write
"GPL-compatible" or "OSI-approved" is a convenient shorthand that all
open source developers will understand. Writing "our own license that
we believe is consistent with open source principles" means that each
developer needs to hire a lawyer to check its real status.

All that said, these are the general background concerns. In the
specific, I think Doug's language looks good; and specifically, it
concords well with my ideas of what open source should be.

Nonetheless, I think it is worthwhile to get the imprimature of a
well-respected organization that looks at such things full time. My
hunch is that the FSF would NOT approve of the change, while the OSI
would. But this is just a guess.

Another option that may or may not satisfy Doug's concern, is to place
revision logs under the GNU Free Document License. Unlike the GPL, the
FDL contains a concept of "invariant sections." This would allow us to
insist on the preservation of existing revision logs, but would
not--AFAICS--allow us to require derived works to include appropriately
updated revision logs.

Yet another option would be to use the GPL for the direct source code
license, but add additional restrictions in the Open Voting Consortium
charter (kinda like the security practices charter I wrote about
before). One of the requirements for OVC membership could be that
member vendors include proper revision logs, along with the code release
requirements mandated by the GPL itself. If we did that, we would not
need to take special steps to be FSF and OSI approved (since the
restriction applies only to membership, not to the code per se).

Yours, David...

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:12 2003

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