On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 9:07 PM, Ted Ts'o <tytso(a)mit.edu> wrote:
This is something I wrote up almost ten years ago, and since the
copyleft-next is an opportunity to consider some different variations
on copyleft, I thought I would throw this out there.
The full proposal, complete with rationale, can be found here:
But the tl;dr summary of the proposal is this:
The Temporary Proprietary License (TPL) allows derivative works to be
released without source code (i.e., in a proprietary fashion), but
only for a limited amount of time. After N months (where N would
likely be somewhere between 12 and 18 months) of the software being
released, the company/person doing the proprietary distribution must
make the sources available under terms which specify that the
contributed code must be made available under the terms which are no
more restrictive than that of the original code base,
In practice this sounds like the current GPLv2. We all know the GPLv2
does not have such explicit clauses today but in practice a few
companies do push the time limits to become compliant with the GPLv2.
Granted, providing this explicitly as part of the language would be a
good clarification it makes me wonder if having that in the license
would simply mean the consumer / redistributor would just extend then
their requirements to become compatible by x number of months.
and must send a
copy of the modified sources to the original maintainer. The original
maintainer must be notified before derivitive works can be distributed
under the terms of the TPL.
But no explicit approval is required, is that correct ?
In my original conception, source code would be released under a
dual-license of the TPL plus the GPL, which is how someone would be
allowed to make propietary changes, but be required to release them
some time later. It might be useful to consider use the supplemental
framework in copyleft-next for this option.
I'm curious what people think of this idea; is it workable? Are there
some fundamental flaws with this approach?
Experience is showing that the more permissive you make a license the
more freely folks will violate that license. We already have many
folks violating the GPLv2 to the point that its own hard requirements
are not being met, and when folks do follow the legal requirements at
times folks are only willing to fall into compliance as a delayed
Given the actual in-practice compliance of GPLv2 it makes me wonder
what value this brings to the table. Then I have technical reasons
that make me think this is not necessary. Why would you provide such
temporary proprietary grant ? Are there measurable gains that show
that this helps ? What exactly would be gained at the developer's /
redistributor's end ? Surely one could argue innovation and enabling a
decent time to market ideas, but leading FOSS projects properly also
get you the same traction. And if we're concerned about IP -- well for
that we have patents that are instrumented to protect IP. Its
important we separate both copyright and IP grants here. After the
temporary proprietary terms would we redistributors be providing an
explicit patent grants for usage of the software or would it only be
for copyright notions of the software ? If its just software and
copyright we are talking about, are there real gains worth keeping
proprietary for a period of time ?