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2017-11-20 - 22:00
2017-09-12 12:00 Age: 69 Days

OSADL project to create Open Source license checklists

By: Carsten Emde

Facilitate Open Source software delivery

Today, another OSADL project was launched

"Open Source License Obligations Checklists"

A project to create and disseminate generally accepted rules to fulfill the obligations when distributing software that is licensed under commonly used Open Source licenses

Rationale

Whenever Open Source software is copied and distributed which typically is permitted by every type of Open Source license, a number of obligations and prohibitions are imposed on the distributor. As a very common situation of such software, the receivers of the software will recursively redistribute it in such a way that a chain of distributors and receivers is created – all of them having to fulfill the same license obligations. However, for the time being, there is no common understanding how these obligations are to be fulfilled in detail which regularly leads to misunderstandings, conflicts and sometimes even to court cases. A solution would be to create generally accepted checklists of the obligations of commonly used Open Source software that are accepted by distributors and copyright holders and trusted by all members of the distribution chain.

The above section of the rationale of the project was taken from the full project description. OSADL is calling more companies for participation in the project – interested parties may find a related letter of intent to apply for participation in the project at the end if the project description. To join in is a perfect way for a company to not only get internationally acknowledged best practices of how to fulfill Open Source license obligations, but – at the same time – to also learn from specialists how these recommendations are derived from the license texts.

Interested to see of how a license obligations checklist may look like? Here is a GPL-2.0 example that also was taken from the project description (please note that the checklist very probably will be different at the end of the project; after all, this is what we want to develop):

Example of a license obligations checklist of the GPL-2.0 (provisional and incomplete)

YOU MUST Forward Copyright notices

YOU MUST Forward License text

YOU MUST Forward Warranty disclaimer

YOU MUST Provide Source code

ATTRIBUTE Customary medium

ATTRIBUTE Machine-readable

IF Interactive

YOU MUST Display License announcement

IF Patent holder

YOU MUST Grant Patent license

IF Source code modification

YOU MUST Grant Copyright license

YOU MUST Use Original license

YOU MUST Provide File name

YOU MUST Provide Change date

USE CASE Binary-only delivery

YOU MUST Provide Tool chain information

USE CASE Delayed source code delivery

YOU MUST Provide Written offer

ATTRIBUTE Duration 3 years

ATTRIBUTE No profit

USE CASE Installed

YOU MUST Provide Installation scripts

YOU MUST Provide Installation material

YOU MUST Permit Installation

YOU MUST NOT Restrict Usage

The final checklist, of course, will be accompanied with a vocabulary that explains every term and every action in great detail. In addition, we will hear opinions of lawyers and legal specialists from all over the world in an attempt to achieve best possible agreement among them.

Project partner

Support of the OpenChain project of the Linux Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. They offered support to disseminate the project description, to recruit volunteers and contributors, to supervise the progress of the project and to distribute the resulting documents that will be licensed under CC-0.