Re: [unrev-II] Patents and licenses

From: Eugene Eric Kim (
Date: Mon Jul 24 2000 - 00:36:57 PDT

  • Next message: Eugene Eric Kim: "Re: [unrev-II] Patents and licenses"

    On Fri, 21 Jul 2000, Lee Iverson wrote:

    > 3) The concern over hijacking is *not* addressed by the BSD/Apache
    > licenses, and Brian Behlendorf has essentially argued that the
    > protection is more of a community and practicality issue than
    > anything. While I buy that up to a point (it is kind of stupid to
    > adopt an open source component and then proprietarize it and thus
    > lose many of the benefits its being open source), I believe that
    > argument doesn't reflect the potential for abuse by companies which
    > can out-scale the open source community by virtue of their sheer
    > size and market penetration (here I'm talking Microsoft and Oracle
    > here as examples).

    Actually, the MPL does not do a better job of addressing hijacking than
    the BSD license. Suppose a company wants to create a "larger work" from
    MPLed software. Under the MPL, the original work, from which the larger
    work is derived, remains under the MPL. In theory, this keeps the
    original work from forking. However, in reality, this isn't the
    case. Creation of a larger work IS a fork of the original work, and
    making those changes proprietary is equivalent to hijacking the code.

    The only license that prevents this kind of hijacking is the GPL, where
    "larger works" and "modifications to the original work" are essentially

    This is one of the main reasons I don't like the MPL. Although I
    appreciate the spirit of the MPL, it retains the weaknesses of both the
    BSD and GPL licenses without, in my opinion, bringing anything new to the
    table (with the exception of the patent clauses).

    > All that said, I particularly like the combination of the MPL and GPL
    > strategy. By licensing under both and allowing the potential adopter
    > of you technology the option of choosing which one to live by, you can
    > have the strengths of both without the downside of either. Commercial
    > developers have the opportunity to adopt without the free license to
    > corrupt (as per the MPL) while truly altruistic developers can
    > aggregate with their own GPLed components and hope for the viruslike
    > consequences down the line.

    Ugh. Releasing code under dual license is going to make things all the
    more confusing to potential licensees of the code.

    I've said it before, but I'll reiterate it again here. The biggest
    strength of the BSD license is its simplicity. It's brief and
    understandable. The MPL is long, full of legalese, and gives licensees
    an artificial sense of security. It does not, unfortunately, prevent
    hijacking. If that's our primary concern, then the GPL is our best

    As a reminder, here's the URL for the position paper I posted a while


    +=== Eugene Eric Kim ===== ===== ===+
    |       "Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they        |
    +=====  can have an excuse to drink alcohol."  --Steve Martin  ===========+

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