this provision is supposed to apply only to the original upstream licensor
Posted Feb 26, 2013 15:42 UTC (Tue) by rfontana
In reply to: this provision is supposed to apply only to the original upstream licensor
Parent article: FOSDEM: Richard Fontana on copyleft-next
You can NEVER NEVER NEVER apply a copyright licence clause to the
It actually depends on what you mean by 'apply', and what sort of
copyright license you're talking about.
The whole point of being the licens*or* is that
you are granting rights to others. They can have no claim whatsoever
Leave aside (as you are doing) the possibility of the clause in
question applying to a downstream licensor (I haven't decided if this
is a problem or not), and focus on the original licensor:
The clause is a copyright license grant from the original
licensor. Here is it's wording in copyleft-next 0.2.0
, the latest numbered version:
If, more than one year after My first distribution of My Work under this
License, I offer to license a Covered Work in a manner that fails to
satisfy the Open Source Definition published by the Open Source
Initiative as of 1 January 2013, then I additionally license My Work to
You under the Apache License [2.0] (excluding any preexisting material
contained in My Work over which I do not hold copyright).
This is just saying that, if certain circumstances occur, in addition
to granting you a license under copyleft-next, I also grant you a
license under the Apache License.
I would not say this gives the downstream licensee a 'claim' against
the original licensor, as worded, so much as a defense against a claim
by the original licensor for copyright infringement. So, for example,
if I'm the original licensor, and I engage in
copyleft-next/proprietary dual licensing, and a year goes by and I
don't stop this practice, by operation of the license I give you the
opportunity to receive the software under an additional license, the
Apache License 2.0. If you decide to create a proprietary derivative
work out of my code -- much as I myself did -- and I sue you for
copyright infringement arising out of your failure to follow the
copyleft requirements of the license, my defense is that that very
license gave me an escape route to use the Apache License, which is
non-copyleft and permits creation of proprietary derivative works.
The problem with this clause is it is telling B
what they are and are not allowed to do with their OWN CODE. THAT IS
"THEFT" (and CANNOT be enforced by copyright law).
No, it's not theft. As noted, it's a copyright license grant, giving
rise to a defense against copyright infringement. The copyright holder
obviously cannot enforce this against itself, but that's not the
point. It's designed as a self-imposed obstacle for the copyright
holder. Much as any developer who uses the BSD or MIT or Apache
license cannot complain if a downstream licensee creates a proprietary
I honestly cannot see ANY developer choosing to use a licence like
that. They'll use GPL.
Developers who wish to reserve the option of a viable business model
based on monopolization of the right to create proprietary derivative
works of a copyleft codebase are better off using the GPL or AGPL (or
some legacy copyleft free or pseudo-free license). Developers
interested in a license that discourages such conduct should look into
copyleft-next, since it is the first license to attempt to do
something about this issue.
to post comments)