[Fedora-legal-list] Open Cascade Public License

Richard Fontana rfontana at redhat.com
Wed Sep 7 14:14:28 UTC 2011

On Tue, Sep 06, 2011 at 10:28:15PM -0400, threethirty wrote:
> During a discussion on the webbernets I informed someone that we had
> labeled the OCPL non-free, as the wiki page states if i am not mistaken.
> Then a gentleman replied to us with this link http://ur1.ca/50y00
> claiming that it was no longer considered non-free by Debian. I was
> wondering if the wiki page needed updating in regards to this license
> and if it does not what is still wrong with it. 

I think the main problem was always Section 7, which states:

  You may choose to offer, on a non-exclusive basis, and to charge a
  fee for any warranty, support, maintenance, liability obligations or
  other rights consistent with the scope of this License with respect
  to the Software (the "Additional Terms") to the recipients of the
  Software. However, You may do so only on Your own behalf and on Your
  sole and exclusive responsibility. You must obtain the recipient's
  agreement that any such Additional Terms are offered by You alone,
  and You hereby agree to indemnify, defend and hold the Initial
  Developer and any Contributor harmless for any liability incurred by
  or claims asserted against the Initial Developer or any Contributors
  with respect to any such Additional Terms.

There are somewhat similar provisions in MPL 1.1, EPL and ancestors,
and the Apache License 2.0, but the differences here are notable.
This license states that one has permission to offer warranty, support
etc. "on a non-exclusive basis", and those other licenses do not
purport to require the licensee to "obtain ... agreement" from the
licensee's recipient. I will only comment on the first difference. 

The "non-exclusive basis" language is puzzling, particularly so since
we must assume the OpenCascade license drafters added it quite
deliberately and must have found its absence from the provisions in
those other licenses a deficiency. Perhaps I am reading this other
than how it was intended or other than how it ought to be understood,
but it seems to indicate that if I choose to offer support to any
recipient, I must make that offer available to all recipients (perhaps
all those who can pay the fee I choose to charge). I believe that
requirement has no precedent in free software and is sufficiently
restrictive to make this a nonfree license.

I also believe that these upstream indemnification provisions are a
bit bothersome, despite their appearance in some of the more
widely-used free software licenses and the tolerance of the Apache
variety in GPLv3. Therefore I think they should be read very strictly,
particularly with respect to any deviation from the language of the
provisions in relatively popular licenses. 

- RF

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