[LINK] Squiz - MySource Matrix Licence
hartr at interweft.com.au
Thu Apr 28 09:10:34 EST 2005
[Please note that I wanted to send the following email also to Squiz -
but I cannot find a contact email address on their web site. If someone
on link has a contact at Squiz, please will you forward this to them and
also advise me of the appropriate contact to discuss this with at Squiz.
I would be more than happy to talk things through with them to improve
my understanding of their licence].
I've been working through the faq and licence at squiz.net and would
offer the following comments.
1) Why YAOL? (Yet Another Open Source Licence?
There are already a plethora of open source licences, but Squiz decided
it needed to develop its own. The main reason for this is
Squiz like [sic] the dual licensing model adopted by MySQL,
however we prefer a single appropriately drafted licence to two
separate licences. The Squiz.Net Open Source Licence Agreement
operates in a similar way to the dual licence model it that it
allows people who do not want to abide by the all of the terms
of the open source licence to pay for the right to reduce their
Whilst it is certainly Squiz's right to produce their own licence, I
have to question their reason for doing so. The dual licencing mode in
open source software is well understood and implemented (as they note)
by MySQL (and others).
It would appear to be an unnecessary complication (for users of open
source) that they choose to merge the two licence mode into a single
licence. There appears to be no driving reason for a new licence and I
would actively encourage Squiz to revert to the two licence mode if that
is their only reason for developing their own licence.
(The licence proliferation problem is discussed at the OSI web site.)
2) Does their licence qualify as open source?
As Squiz point out, their licence has been submitted to the OSI to check
its compliance and it is their ruling that will determine the outcome.
Reading the licence and the OSI definition, I can perceive an issue. The
licence requires that people modifying the software advise Squiz:-
2.8 You must Notify Squiz.Net within 30 days of making any
Modifications even if You do not intend to distribute those
Modifications. Notify is defined in Clause 4.2 below. If Your
Modifications are incomplete, You must still Notify Squiz of the
status of your progress not less frequently than once every 30
days. If You do not Notify Squiz.Net of Modifications You have
made (complete or not) within 30 days, Squiz.Net may deem that
you have opted to limit your obligations in accordance with
Clause 3 and as such Squiz.Net may reasonably charge You the
consideration indicated in Clause 3.
Clause 4.2 defines 'notify' as follows
Notify means You must provide Squiz.Net a clear and succinct
written notice of any Modifications You make. The notice must as
(a) explain the purpose of the Modifications;
(b) list which files were affected by the Modifications;
(c) identify any potential copyright, stability or security
(d) state how complete You believe the Modifications are;
(e) state the intended purpose of the Modifications;
(f) clearly and accurately identify who You are; and
(g) provide information on how You may be easily contacted.
You must supply this notice to Squiz by one of the following
(i) by mailing it to Squiz.Net's registered office (92 Jarrett
Street Leichhardt 2040, Sydney NSW Australia at the time this
licence was written);
(ii) by faxing it to Squiz.Net's registered office (+61 2 9568
6733 at the time this licence was written); or
(iii) by submitting it through the form provided at Squiz's
It is Your responsibility to ensure that the notice is received
Related Documentation means any literature or materials of any
kind that You provide in written or electronic form in
connection the Software, including training, promotional or
sales literature or materials.
Whilst there is nothing that I can see in the OSI definition that
specifically makes this very onerous and unusual reporting requirement
fall outside the OSI definition, I would hope that the OSI rejects it
for the following reasons:-
1) The licence imposes unusual restrictions on code modifications and
the redistribution of those modifications. It also imposes the same
restrictions on using any modifications in house.
2) The licence (through those restrictions) appears to make it
impossible to fork the project in the true sense. 'Forkability' is an
essential part of open source licencing, allowing a community to wrest
control of a project that is deemed to be going in unacceptable
directions. Whilst the potential of forking is frequently seen as a
downside of open source, it is an essential concomitant of the freedoms
inherent in an open source licence (for example recent happenings in the
X Windows world).
I am also at a loss to understand why Squiz feels that it needs to keep
this level of control over its software - a level of control that has
proved completely unnecessary in the wider FOSS world.
It is my intention to write to OSI about this licence, but I will not do
so for several days to allow time for my views to be corrected.
Let me be clear however that, notwithstanding my reservations about
their licence, I applaud Squiz for its desire to place MySource into the
The Open Source Initiative web site http://www.opensource.org/
MySource Licence http://matrix.squiz.net/about/licence
MySOurce licence FAQ http://matrix.squiz.net/about/licence/licence_faq
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