Re: [OVC-discuss] Document on Holt bill (was Re: I need your help today-- oppose Holt bill as introduced)

From: Edward Cherlin <>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 15:53:58 CDT

On Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 1:03 PM, Brian Behlendorf<> wrote:
> On Fri, 26 Jun 2009, Brian Fox wrote:
>> Hi Brian -
>> What exactly are you suggesting?
> That the legislation not specify the GPL as the license to use on the
> software created with public funds, which would prevent Open Source products
> not under the GPL from using the code.  It doesn't need to - allow it to be
> licensed either completely as public domain or if that's not possible under
> a modified-BSD or Apache license, which places very few requirements on
> downstream redistributors.

I suggest something more practical and less threatening: any license
accepted as Free by FSF, at

This includes Apache (2.0 or later), BSD minus the advertising clause,
X11 (aka MIT License), Artistic, and others.

We don't have to mention FSF, just supply the list.

Or we can specify the attributes of an acceptable license:

o Source code must be available at no charge with no trouble.

o Code can be modified and the results redistributed without payment
of any kind.

o In particular, no patent, trademark, or trade secret encumbrances
preventing reuse or imposing fees.

o Optional provision: code can be used in a project without requiring
the whole project to use the same license, as long as there is a clear
code separation. LGPL, in other words.

> The problem is that GPL has, unfortunately and unfairly, become a code word
> for anti-commercial, rather than transparency-enhancing.  There are groups
> fighting that unfair depiction that are worth supporting.  But pick your
> battles.  If you can get what you want with non-copyleft licensing, and the
> risk and cost of derivative proprietary products is low (which they are,
> IMHO) then don't add the complication.  OVC should not try to send a
> message, inadvertantly, that the only way to get to open voting is through
> an anti-commercial approach.

I think we mean LGPL, which cannot be misrepresented as "viral".
(Formerly Library GPL, now Lesser GPL)

GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) version 3

    This is the latest version of the LGPL: a free software license,
but not a strong copyleft license, because it permits linking with
non-free modules. It is compatible with GPLv3. We recommend it for
special circumstances only.

    Please note that LGPLv3 is not compatible with GPLv2 by itself.
However, most software released under GPLv2 allows you to use the
terms of later versions of the GPL as well. When this is the case, you
can use the code under GPLv3 to make the desired combination. To learn
more about compatibility between GNU licenses, please see our FAQ.

> On Fri, 26 Jun 2009, Alan Dechert wrote:
>> Well, now, that's interesting, Brian.  I will give that some thought.  I
>> wonder what others think of that.
>> On the one hand, I'd like to see the funding for non proprietary
>> accessibility technology included.  In fact, this part of the bill says
>> almost exactly what I asked Rush Holt to include when he called me on the
>> phone last year.
>> On the other hand, I'm skeptical about the funding doing any good.  OVC
>> would probably not get any of the money.  And unless the work is really good
>> and fits with our system, it may not be useful to us.  So, I wouldn't
>> necessarily consider it a great loss if it were taken out.
> That's not the counterpoint - sorry if my curt reply caused confusion.  By
> all means, if gov money will be spent on accessibility technology, they
> should be licensed in a way that maximizes its ability to be used and
> re-used widely.  Open Source licenses create a great model for this, but
> there are many Open Source licenses that are not the GPL, and the GPL
> actually only allows re-use within the GPL community.  The opposite of
> "proprietary" is not "GPL".  Any GPL licensed package, like OVC, could use
> this tech if it's licensed public domain, modified-BSD, or Apache. But the
> contrary is not true.
>        Brian
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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:15 2009

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