Sun has submitted a new license
"Common Development and Distribution License" or CDDL) to the Open Source
Initiative's license-discuss mailing list. This license, derived from the
Mozilla Public License, may (or may not) be what Sun chooses to use for its
possible open-source Solaris release, so it is worth a look.
This license is GPL-like in its intent, but (as Sun acknowledges up front)
it is not compatible with the GPL. There are certain extra terms in the
CDDL which, while not necessarily objectionable in their own right,
conflict with the GPL's "no additional restrictions" terms. This
incompatibility came as a surprise to few people; nobody has ever expected
Sun to encourage the mixing of Solaris and Linux kernel code.
The CDDL licenses the copyrights in the code for use, distribution, and
modification - the usual free software rights. It also contains a patent
grant, but here the language is a bit more constrained:
(b) under Patent Claims infringed by the making, using or
selling of Original Software, to make, have made, use,
practice, sell, and offer for sale, and/or otherwise
dispose of the Original Software (or portions thereof).
In other words, the CDDL does not license any patents for use in derived
products. Other terms in the license suggest that Sun is concerned about
patent infringements caused by modifications, but the above exclusion is
not restricted to such infringements.
The license requires that anybody distributing the code in binary form make
the associated source available under the CDDL. The license says nothing
about how the source must be made available; in theory, one could satisfy
the license by requiring people to pick up the source in person at one's
Mongolian software distribution center. Interestingly, the license
allows the binaries themselves to be distributed under any license, so long
as (1) the source is available under the CDDL, and (2) the person
distributing binaries under a different license indemnifies the copyright
holders for any liabilities.
Unlike the GPL, the CDDL allows developers to make modifications to the
license text itself (for their own code).
The CDDL contains patent defense language: if you sue a copyright holder
for patent infringement, you can lose your rights to use the code under the
license. In any patent litigation settlement talks, the value of the
patent license granted by the CDDL must be taken into account -
essentially, the party initiating the lawsuit loses any patent license
granted by the CDDL. There is one other strange term:
6.4. In the event of termination under Sections 6.1 or 6.2 above,
all end user licenses (excluding distributors and resellers) that
have been validly granted by You or any distributor hereunder prior
to termination (excluding licenses granted to You by any
distributor) shall survive termination.
So if you are a software distributor, and you got the code from somebody
who later turns around and sues Sun, you can lose your rights to the
software under the license.
The discussion has been relatively muted; there seems to be an early
consensus that the license, possibly with some small tweaks, is, indeed, a
free software license. It will probably get the stamp of approval that Sun
seeks. What Sun will then do with this license remains to be seen,
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